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Full text of "Poverty and politics in Mexico City, 1824-1854"

POVERTY AND POLITICS 
IN MEXICO CITY, 1824-1854 



BY 



FREDERICK JOHN SHAW JR. 



A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL 
OF THE UNIVERSITY OE FLORIDA 
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE RE(|UIREMENTS FOR THE 
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY 



UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 
1975 



Dedicated to the memories 
of David Andrew Shaw, 
Ruth Irene Huseman, and 
Susan Amanda Snider. 



ACKNOl-JLEDGMENTS 



My greatest single debt is to my wife, Lynn, who 
bore our children and supported us in comfort during the 
long years of work. I am also indebted to Professor 
Lyle N. McAlister of the Department of History for en- 
couraging me to undertake a difficult project and to 
Professor Sugiyama lutaka of the Department of Sociology 
for introducing me to the rudiments of statistical 
sampling and quantitative analysis that set the disser- 
tation on its proper course. 1 would like to thank 
Roberta Solt who labored long hours editing and typing 
the reams of indecipherable copy provided to her. Finally 
I would like to express my gratitude to the University of 
Florida Rugby Club for providing a well-needed outlet for 
the fury of pent-up aggressions. 



PREFACE 



The dissertation originated as a study of Mexico 
City's leperos during the first three decades of national in- ■ 
dependence (1821-1854). The leperos, according' to the tradi- 
tional view, were a class of idle, urban vagrants readily 
distinguishable from the honest laboring poor. During the ■ 
course of the research, it became apparent that the leperos 
did not exist as a class apart from the laboring poor and 
that crime and vagrancy were structured into lower-class life. 
The dissertation was consequently expanded into a study of 
the entire pattern of urban poverty. 

Most sources consulted were documents preserved by 
the Archive del Ayuntamiento de la Ciudad de Mexico. Although 
traditional methodology was employed to analyze the data, re- 
liance was also placed in quantitative data processed into 
the format of the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences 
and analyzed by computer. The two sources of computerized 
data are the 599 cases heard by the Tribunal de Vagos between 
1828 and 1852 and the municipal census of 1849. The vagrancy 
cases comprise all the completely recorded and full vagrancy 
cases existent and are supplemented by 336 uncomputerized , 



IV 



criminal cases lieard before the Juzgado de Primera Instancia 
of Cuartel Menor 17 in 1852. The court's jurisdiction in- 
cluded the barrios of Mazanares and La Falma, notorious lairs 
of the semicriniinal leperos. 

The census of 1849 counted only 120,000 inhabitants 
of a city whose population approached 200,000. Those excluded 
from the census were the poor who like their European brothers 
feared the census taker as the harbinger of the recruiting 
sergeant and the tax collector. The census also counted a 
population distorted and dislocated by war with the United 
States (1845-1848). Despite the inaccuracies, the census re- 
flects important lower-class characteristics. 

The census of 1849 has two advantages over the pre- 
ceding census of 1842. It clearly indicates the habitation 
of each individual, making the determination of household 
composition possible. The census also lists the monthly 
rent of each habitation. Throughout the dissertation, mean 
monthly rent is assumed to be an indicator of the economic, 
status of the capital's occupational groups. 

The analysis of the census required sampling tech- 
niques. Sixty sample blocks were selected randomly from 
the capital's 246 officially designated blocks. One out of 
every six adult males fifteen years of age or older was 
chosen from those residing on the sample blocks, and infor- 
mation entered on IBM cards. The 1,366 cases collected 
comprise a random sample of the adult male population. 



A random samp].e of adult males and their households 
could not reflect all characteristics of a population 57 
percent female and possessing an extremej.y large number of 
matrifocal housholds. For this reason, reference to "sample 
population" applies only to the adult male population. 
Details on the characteristics of the general population 
were obtained through analysis of the populations of the 
barrios of Necatitlan and San Salvador el Seco. The reader 
is notified when this information is used. 



VI 



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CONTENTS 



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS, iii 

PREFACE, iv 

MAPA DE LA CIUDAD DE MEXICO, vii 

CUARTELES MAYORES , CUARTELES MENORES , BARRIOS, AND TRAZA, viii 

TABLES, xi 

ABSTRACT, xvi 

CHAPTER ONE. CITY, ECONOMY, PEOPLE, I 

City, 1. Economy, 18. People, 38. Notes, 60. 

CHAPTER TWO. LABOR AND WAGES, 69 

Labor, 69. Wages, 113. Notes, 120. 

CHAPTER THREE. LIFE STYLES, HEALTH, DEMOGRAPHY, 129 

Life Styles, 129. Health, 160. Demography, 167. 
Notes, 179. 

CHAPTER FOUR. PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS AND FAMILY, 187 

Public Institutions, 187. Family, 219. Notes, 229. 



IX 



CHAPTER FIVE. RELIGION AND RECREATION, 235 

Religion, 235. Recreation, 254. Notes, 262. 

CHAPTER SIX. CRIME, LAW ENFORCEMENT, JUSTICE, 266 

Crime, 266. Law Enforcement, 295. Justice, 302, 
Notes, 309. 

CHAPTER SEVEN. POVERTY AND POLITICS, 315 
Notes, 349. 



APPENDIX A. 
APPENDIX B. 
APPENDIX C. 
APPENDIX D. 
APPENDIX E. 
APPENDIX F. 
APPENDIX G. 
APPENDIX H. 
APPENDIX I. 
APPENDIX J. 
APPENDIX K. 
APPENDIX L. 
APPENDIX M. 
APPENDIX N. 

APPENDIX 0. 
APPENDIX P. 



PROFILES OF MA.NZANA 5 7 AND t4ANZANA 60, 355 

COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY, 358 

SALARIES AND WAGES, 364 

POPULATION ESTIMATES AND GROWTH, 369 

OCCUPATIONAL CATEGORIES, 372 

VAGRANTS AND CRIMINALS, 377 

500-YARD RING/1, 000-YARD CIRCLE PROFILES, 384 

TRAZA/BARRIOS PROFILES, 387 

AGE AT DEATH, 1842, 1844, 1850, 390 

CAUSES OF DEATH, 1842, 1844, 393 

PERIODICITY OF DISEASE, 396 

POPULATION, MANZANA 57 AND MANZANA 60, 399 

MARRIAGE PERIODICITY AND HOUSEHOLD SIZE, 403 

OCCUPATIONS OF PARENTS OF FREE SCHOOL PUPILS, 
1836, 406 

FAMILY MUTATION, 409 

VAGI^\NCY CODE AND CRIMINAL STATISTICS, 1825- 
1852, 413 



REFERENCES, 418 



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH, 434 



TABLES 



1. ANNUAL INCOME OF COMMERCIAL ESTABLISHMENTS, 1848, 28 

2. BRANCHES OF THE JUNTA DE FOMENTO DE ARTESANOS, 29 
,3. MEXICAN BUDGET, 1844, 29 

'4. OCCUPATIONAL-CATEGORY/MEAN-RENT CORRELATION, 30 

5. COMPARISON OF THE MEAN RENTS OF OCCUPATIONAL CATEGORIES 
IN THE TRAZA AND BARRIOS, 30 

6. OCCUPATIONAL CATEGORIES OF NATIVES OF MEXICO CITY, IN- 
TERNAL MIGRANTS, AND FOREIGNERS, 31 

7. OCCUPATIONAL CATEGORIES BY SPECIFIC GEOGRAPHICAL 
ORIGIN, 31 

8. URBAN ORIGINS OF IMMIGIUNTS , 32 

9. COMPARISON OF MEAN RENT BY ORIGIN AND OCCUPATION, 33 

10. MEAN RENT BY SPECIFIC ORIGIN BY OCCUPATION, 33 

11. ARTISANAL CRAFTS RAN^KED BY RENT, 98 

12. UNSKILLED OCCUPATIONS RANKED BY RENT, 99 

13. WOMEN'S OCCUPATIONS, MANZANA 168, 100 

14. COMPARISON OF RENT BY OCCUPATION, 100 

15. PRICE OF MAIZE AND BEANS, 15 3 

16. RESIDENCE AND MEAN RENTS, 15 3 

17. EPIDEMIC OF^^MEASLES AND DYSENTERY IN THE SAGRARIO AND 
SAN SEBASTIAN, 1847, 154 

18. SCARLET FEVER VICTIMS, SAGRARIO, 1844, 154 



XI 



19. PERCENTAGE OF IMMIGRANTS IN NECATITLAN, SAL SALVADOR 
EL SECO, AND THE SAMPLE MALE POPULATION, 155 

20. DEPENDENCY RATIOS, 155 

21. LEGITIMATE/ILLEGITIMATE BIRTHS, 156 

22. CROSSTABULATION OF AGE AT W.RRIAGE WITH MEAN RENT, 156 

23. CROSSTABULATION OF HOUSEHOLD SIZE WITH MEAN RENT, 157 

24. HOSPITALS, MEXICO CITY, 1849, 205 

25. HOSPITAL OF SAN ANDRES, ADMISSION AND DISCHARGE OF 
PATIENTS, 1828, 1846, 205 

26. PRIMARY SCHOOLS, 1845, 206 

27. SCHOOLS OF THE SOCIETY OF CHARITY, 1851, 207 

28. ESCUELA DE LAS AMIGAS, BARRIO DE SANTA CRUZ ACATLAN, 
MONTHLY ATTENDANCE, 1831, 207 

29. FAMILY TYPES, CENSUS OF 1849, 208 

30. POPULATION OF PARISHES, CENSUS OF 1816, 247 

31. POPULATION OF NUNNERIES, 1861, 247 

32. VALUE OF CORPORATE PROPERTIES IN THE CITY OF MEXICO, 
1846, 248 

33. BAPTISMS, 1842, 248 

34. COMPLAINTS AGAINST SUSPECTED VAGRANTS, 283 

35. UNEMPLOYMENT AMONG SUSPECTED VAGRANTS, 283 

36. SUSPECTED VAGPvANTS WITH TWO OR MORE OCCUPATIONS, 284 

37. SUSPECTED VAGRANTS UNABLE TO SUPPORT FAMILIES, 285 

38. VOTER PARTICIPATION, PRIMARY ELECTIONS, 321 

A-1. OCCUPATIONAL PROFILE, MANZANA 57 AND MANZANA 60, 356 

A-2. HABITATIONAL PROFILE, M\NZANA 57 AND MANZANA 60, 35 6 

A-3. RENT PROFILE, MANZANA 5 7 AND MANZANA 60, 356 



Xll 



A 


-4 


B- 


-1 


B- 


-2 


B- 


-3 


B 


-4 


B- 


-5 


C- 


-1 


C- 


-2 


C- 


-3 


C- 


-4 


D^ 


-1 


D- 


-2 


D- 


-3 


E- 


-1 


E- 


-2 


E- 


-3 


F- 


-1 


F- 


-2 


F- 


-3 


F- 


4 


F- 


5 


F- 


6 


F- 


7 


G- 


1. 



BUSINESSES, "MANZANA 5 7 AND MANZANA 60, 35 7 

COMMERCIAL ESTABLISHMENTS, 1843, 359 

SIXTEEN MOST COMMON INDUSTRIAL ESTABLISHMENTS, 1843, 360 

WORK FORCE OF CARPENTRY SHOPS, 1845, 360 

INVENTORY OF CARPENTRY SHOP WORTH $48 IN 3 853, 362 

CAPITAL INVESTED AND LABOR FORCE OF INDUSTRIAL AND 
COMMERCIAL ESTABLISHMENTS, CENSUS OF 1849, 362 

CIVIL SERVICE SALARIES, 1845, 365 

SERVANT WAGES, 366 ' , ' , 

WEEKLY WAGES, SKILLED, 366 

WOMEN'S WAGES, 368 

ESTIMATES OF MEXICO CITY'S POPULATION, 1811-1857, 370 

MEXICO CITY NATURAL POPULATION GROWTH, 1839-1845, 370 

POPULATION ESTIMATES OF THE AYUNTAMIENTO DE MEXICO, 
1824-1846, 3 71 

RANDOM SAMPLE OF 1849, MIDDLE/UPPER CLASSES, 373 

lUNDOM SAMPLE OF 1849, SKILLED, 374 . 

RANDOM SAMPLE OF 1849, UNSKILLED, 376 

SUSPECTED VAGRANTS, 1828-1852, SKILLED, 378 

SUSPECTED VAGRANTS, 1828-1852, UNSKILLED, 379 

CONDEMNED VAG"RANTS , 1828-1852, SKILLED, 380 

CONDEMNED VAGRANTS, 1828-1852, UNSKILLED, 380 

CRIMINALS, MINOR WARD 17, 1828-1852, SKILLED, 381 

CRIMINALS, MINOR WARD 17, 1828-1852, UNSKILLED, 382 

OCCUPATIONS OF CONVICTED CRIMINALS, 383 

COMPARISON OF POPULATION OF INNER 500-YARD CIRCLE 
WITH OUTER 1,000-YARD RING, 385 



Xlll 



G-2. COICPARISON OF INDUSTRIES OF INNER 500-YARD CIRCLE 
AND OUTER 1,000-YARD RING, 386 

H-1. CITY, TRAZA, BARRIOS OCCUPATIONAL PROFILE, 388 

H-2. CITY, TRAZA, BARRIOS HABITATIONAL PROFILE, 388 

H-3. CITY, TRAZA, BARRIOS RENT PROFILE, 389 

I-l. AGE AT DEATH, 1842, 391 

1-2. AGE AT DEATH, 1844, 391 

1-3. AGE AT DEATH, 1850, 392 

J-1. CAUSES OF DEATH, 1842, 1844, 394 

J- 2. DEATHS OF CHILDREN, THE SAGRARIO, 1842, 394 

K-1. MONTHLY PERCENTAGES OF PNEUMONIA DEATHS, 1842, 1844, 
1848, 397 

K-2. MONTHLY PERCENTAGES OF DYSENTERY DEATHS, 1842, 1844, 
1848, 397 

K-3. PERCENTAGES OF TOTAL MONTHLY DEATHS, 1842, 1848, 398 

L-1. MANZANA 57, AGE /SEX DISTRIBUTION, 400 

■L-2. MANZANA 60, AGE/SEX DISTRIBUTION, 400 

L-3. MANZANA 57, MIGRANT POPULATION, 401 

L-4. MANZANA 60, MIGR.\NT POPULATION, 401 

L-5. MANZANA 57, PERCENTAGES OF MIGRANTS IN THE 20-39 AGE 

BRACKET, 402 . . 

L~6. MANZANA 60, PERCENTAGES OF MIGRANTS IN THE 20-39 AGE 
BRACKET, 402 

M-1. MONTHLY PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL ANNUAL MARRIAGES, 1842, 404 

M-2. CONTRAST OF TYPE 5 AND TYPE 9 FAMILY CILVRACTERISTICS , 404 

M-3. CROSS TABULATION OF HOUSEHOLD SIZE WITH RESIDENCE IN 
TRAZA AND BARRIOS, 405 

M-4. CROSSTABUT.ATION OF HOUSEHOLD SIZE WITH OCCUPATION, 405 



N-1. SCHOOL LOCATED ON THE STREET OF SEVEN PRINCES, OCCU- 
PATIONS OF PARENTS, 1836, 407 

0-1. FAMILY OF ABRAHAM GARCIA, SHOEMAKER, 410 

0-2. FAMILY OF BENITO GIRON, WEAVER, 410 

0-3. FAMILY OF DOMINGO FLORES , WATER CARRIER, 411 ' 

0-4. F.\MILY OF CRISTOBAL CALINDO, PORK BUTCHER, 412 

P-1. CRIME, 1825, 416 

P-2. CRIME, 184 2, 416 

P-3. CRIME, 1851, 417 

P-4. CRIME, 1852, 417 



ABSTRACT OF DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL 

OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT 

OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE 

OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY 



POVERTY AND POLITICS 
IN MEXICO CITY, 1824-1854 



BY 

FERDERICK JOHN SHAW JR. 
JUNE 19 75 



Chairman: Lyle N. McAlister, Ph.D. 
Major Department: History 



The dissertation examines lower-class life in Mexico 
City during the first three decades of the republican period 
(1824-1854) . It explores fresh ground with the aid of 
criminal records, census data, and modern techniques of com- 
puter analysis, and in the process it disproves some tradi- 
tional assumptions. 

The poor were a polyglot mass of artisans, unskilled, 
laborers, and their families, earning a subsistence income 
or less. They numbered 80 percent of the capital's popula- 
tion. Twenty-seven percent of them were internal migrants, 
mostly artisans from the large cities of the Republic. 

Marxist historians have grossly distorted the capi- 
talistic oppression of t?ie era. Artisans labored in numerous 

xvi 



small preindus trial workshops, in their homes, or on the 
streets. Labor relations within the workshops were rela- 
tively harmonious, and wages should have been sufficient 
to assure contemporary standards of subsistence. Chronic 
unemployment and inf'l.ation, and not capitalistic oppression, 
were the true enemies of the working classes. 

Ill-clothed, ill-housed, and ill-fed, and surrounded 
by filth, the [)oor were wretchedly unhealthy. Convulsions 
produced by fevers slaughtered the infants. At least one 
third of all recorded deaths were of children below the age 
of three. Respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases carried 
off the adults. E]3i. demies reached monstrous proportions. In 
18.3'! and 1850 cholera took over eleven thousand lives in less 
than a month. Assaulted by disease, the population stagnated. 
Deaths exceeded births, and the heavy flow of immigrants 
barely replaced the natural population deficit. 

The national government provided no services to the 
poor, but was a predator insatiably craving money and men. 
Judged by the standards of the times, the municipal system 
of public charity was a dismal failure, for the hospitals, 
poorhouse, and public school system withered for lack of 
funds. Only the orphanage, supervised by a private junta, 
operated humanely and efficiently. 

Popular religion was a medley "of superstition and 
dogma scorned by educated Catholics. The Church itself 
criticized its ignorant and vulgar character. Nineteenth- 



XVI 1 



century Liberals unfairly charged that the parish clergy 
oppressed the poor with excessively high burial and bap- 
tismal fees. Moderate rates prevailed in the parishes. 
The true authors of lower-class suffering were a municipal , 
sanitary regulation forbidding burials in the parish grave- 
yards and the high fees of municipal cemeteries administered 
by the archbishopric. 

The archaic system of law enforcement and criminal 
justice failed to cope with the crime and vagrancy structured 
into lower-class life. Popular opinion held that the capital's 
leperos were a permanent, criminal class distinguishable from 
the honest, laboring poor. In reality the leperos were a 
fluctuating cross-section of the poor reduced to idleness and 
crime by unemployment. 

The poor had little interest in political factions or 
ideologies. They became politically active only when federalist- 
liberal politicians exploited their frustrations or caught 
their attentions by a rationality of hero worship. Dwelling 
on the margins of political life, the attachment of the 
poor to any cause was fleeting. Cloaked in stoic indifference, 
they witnessed the downfall of every regim.e that their rioting 
brought to power. Downtrodden by economic depression and by 
government exactions, they abandoned their early attachment to 
the Republic. 



CHAPTER ONE 
CITY, ECONO^IY, PEOPLE 



Lacking all instruction, they [the castes 
circa 1809] were subject to great defects 
and vices; but with awakened spirits and 
vigorous bodies, they were susceptible to 
every thing evil and every thing good. 

— Lucas Alaman , 1853 ' 



City 



A nineteenth-century traveler viewing Mexico City 
from the forested slopes that separated the Valley of 
Mexico from the high plains of Puebla might have described 
the capital as a dazzling white jex%rel set in a field of 
green interspersed with blue. North of the city began the 
gently rising plain that led to the fertile Bajio and the 
cities of Celaya, Queretaro, and Guanajuato. Lake Texcoco, 
victim of unrelenting drainage schemes by colonial viceroys, 
lay six miles from the city's fringes to the east. The 
heavy layer of salts left by the lake's evaporation had 
transformed the eastern approach into a barren, somber 
plain that contrasted sharply with its surroundings. 



Bearing south, our traveler xv'ould come upon the lush marsh 
called Xochimilco , the floating pleasure gardens of the 
Aztec emperors. Southwestward the land rose to the forested 
slopes of Chapultepec HiJ.l, whose majestic cedars once 
shaded the diversions of the Aztec nobility. Farther west, 
the verdant fields surrounding Che villages of Tacubaya and 
Azcapulzalco bore witness to the fertility of the Valley of 
Mexico. Eight broad, aspen-shaded roads led to the garitas 
(internal customs houses) which rimmed the city. Whitex'jashed 
adobe walls reflected brilliantly in the sunlight. 

The distant beauty of Mexico City was a fagade for 
its treacherous location. The Valley of Mexico lay astride 
the gigantic earthquake zone that extends the length of 
North and South America. Frequent tremors, although moderate, 
disrupted city life and the nerves of superstitious inhabi- 
tants. During the earthquake which struck Mexico City at 
noon on St. Cecilia's Day in 1840, half-naked people ran 
into the streets, falling to their knees to take communion, 

terrified by the sight of swaying towers, fountains disgorging 

2 
their waters, and the apocalyptic pealing of church bells. 

Earthquakes were a minor nuisance compared to chronic 

flooding. The capital sits atop the former basin of shrinking 

3 
Lake Texcoco, During the nineteenth century's summer rainy 

seasons, daily showers deposited an annual average of twenty- 

4 
four watery inches. There were two varieties of flooding. 

First, summer showers quickly saturated the marshy subsoil 



and caused flash flooding. In the relatively well-drained 
central plaza, water could rise to knee level. The second 
variety was more serious. A series of heavy rainy seasons 
would raise the water table until the southern and eastern 
suburbs became shallow lakes passable only by canoes. 
Throughout the year, an uncomfortable dampness pervaded the 

7 

entire city. 

Passing through the garitas , ugly squalor thrust 
itself upon the eyes of the visitor. The distant impression 
of lushness was overwhelmed by the gray, polluted marshes 

8 

that ringed the city and intruded into the suburbs. The 
human element was appalling. In 1847 George Ruxton, an 
English mining engineer, was struck by the 



regularity of the streets, the chaste ar- 
chitecture of the buildings, the miserable 
appearance of the population, the downcast 
look of the men, the absence of ostentatious 
display of wealth, and the prevalence of 
filth which everywhere meets, the eye.'-* 



These- impressions were not confined to finicky Englishmen. 
In 1851 the capital's ugliness dampened the spirits of a 
young jalisqueho (native of Jalisco) . 



In a little while we entered twisting 
alleys with wretched hovels inhabited by 
filthy old women, grimy children, and 
drunken leperos . The coach made its way 
througli mountains of trash tlirown care- 
lessly in the sides of the road and bor- 
dering the drains, scattering the dogs 



that worried the cadaver of any dead animal 
that chanced to be in the road. The coach 
advanced farther, and I was surprised by 
houses much taller than I was accustomed to 
see ill Guadalajara, but so sad, so lacking 
in color, and of life, that it astonished 
me that such a beautiful sky could shelter 
such a gloomy landscape. We had arrived in 
Mexico City/'O 



The garitas enclosed a quadrilateral extending 
roughly two miles north and south, and three miles east and 
west. A nineteenth-century map of Mexico City reveals the 
typical rectangular grid of the Spanish colonial city. At 
its center was an enormous plaza, the Plaza de la Constitucion. 
Broad, straight avenues running north-south and east-west of 
the central plaza formed a grid that intersected the entire 
city. Scattered throughout the city, usually at the inter- 
sections of the larger streets, were ninety-seven lesser 

■1, 1 
plazas and plazuelas . 

The siting of important public facilities followed 
the centripetal logic of city designers. The Plaza de la 
■Constitucion was the ceremonial, political, and administra- 
tive center. Occupying the place of honor on its northern 
side was the Catedral Nacional, the cathedral church of the 
Archdiocese of Mexico. On the eastern side, the enormous 
Palacio Nacional served as the formal residence of Mexico's 
rulers, the hall of the national congress, and an office 
building for most of the national bureaucracy. Directly 
opposite the Catedral stood the buildings of the ayuntamiento 



(city council), housing the municipal offices, courts, and 

] 2 
jail. 

Other public facilities followed the centripetal 

pattern of importance and convenience. The valuable Casa de 

Moneda (national mint) was adjacent to the eastern side of 

the Palacio Nacional. The Plaza del Volador, diagonally 

connected to the Plaza de la Cons titucion' s southeastern 

13 
corner, contained the main vegetable and meat market. 

Five hundred yards due south of the Catedral Nacional, the- 

Casa de Aduana (internal customs house) stood on the spacious 

Plaza de Santo Domingo, conveniently near the heavily traveled 

Calle Real de Santa Anna leading north to the Baj io and south 

1 4 
to Puebla. Because of the Aduana, the Plaza de Santo 

] 5 
Domingo was the capital's financial center. Less desirable 

facilities were, located even farther from the center to pro- 
tect the lives, property, and health of the inhabitants. 
Tlie location of the Calle de Curtidores (Tanners' Street) 
and the Rastro (municipal slaughterhouse) on the southern 
fringes spared the central portion from noisome odors and 
unmanageable herds of cattle. The Hospital de San Andres 
(municipal hospital) was on the fringes of the northwestern 
suburb of San Cosme. The Ciudadela (municipal arsenal) and 
the Acordada (national prison) lay 1,000 yards southwest of 
the central plaza. The same distance from the center, but 
due west, were the Hospital de San Hipolito (insane asylum) 
and the Hospicio de Pobres (municipal poorhouse) . The 



Hospital de San Lazaro (municipal leprosarium) loomed on the 
eastern fringes of the city, a grim sentinel to match the 
somberness of the eastern plain. In' the extreme southeast 

1 7 

and northivfest were the two municipal cemeteries. 

Two massive aqueducts were the only public facilities 
that did not fit the centripetal pattern. The oldest aque- 
duct started at the heights of Chapultepec and ran for 5,000 
yards before it emptied in the fountain of the Plaza del 
Salto del Agua, a southwestern suburb. Another longer 
aqueduct started beyond Chapultepec at the village of Santa 
Fe and carried water over six miles to the fountain of Maris- 
cala on the northwestern fringe. From the two main foun- 
tains a 11,059-yard-long network of pipes and aqueducts fed 
28' public fountains and 505 private fountains. 

The intersecting grid of streets formed the capital's 
administrative divisions. The intersection of the avenues 
at the southeastern corner of the central plaza divided the 
city into enormous quadrants. The quadrants contained eight 
cuarteles mayores (major administrative wards). The first 
four formed an interior quadrangle centered at the intersec- 
tion of the two main avenues. The remaining four rimmed 
that quadrangle in an irregular pattern. Each cuartel mayor 
was subdivided into eight cuarteles menores (minor wards)." 
Cuarteles menores usually were of similar size and were sub- 
divided into 246 manzanas (numbered blocks) created by the 

2 1 

intersections of the streets. Manzanas were the basic units 
of the civi]. administration system. 



The cuartel system introduced in 1782 was an im- 
"provement upon the older system of civil division. Prior to 
1782 the church parish and the traditional Indian barrio 
(neighborhood) served as basic administrative units and 
were difficult to police because of size. The cuartel sys- 
tem arranged civil divisions in a logical order and' reduced 
them to manageable size. After 1782 a hierarchy of unpaid 
officials policed every unit of the system."" 

The cuarteles were artificial creations having only 
administrative significance. The traditional residential 
divisions recognized by the general population were the 
Traza (old Spanish quarter) and the ancient Indian barrio. 
The historical roots of these divisions were embedded in 
the Aztec and early colonial past. The Spaniards construct- 
ing Mexico City over the ruins of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec 
capital, segregated their Traza from those barrios of the 
surviving Indian population. The Traza formed a rough 
square centered upon the main plaza that measured 1,400 by 
1,400 yards. It was a fortified sanctuary against a potentially 
hostile Indian population. Expanded over the centuries, the 
final boundaries enclosed all important government and 
church buildings, Spanish industries, and central markets. ^"^ 
The barrios were remnants of a complex tribal organization. ' ' 
During Aztec times the city was divided into four capullis 

(districts) within which resided one of the four Aztec 

24 
tribes. Each capulli had four capultecos (subdistricts) 



that housed the tribal clans. The capultecos centered around 

25 
plazas exhibiting the altars of clan deities. The clans 

specialized economically, and their barrios acquired reputa- 
tions as the homes of distinctive crafts sucli as silversmith- 
ing, feather working, or pottery making. The Spanish re- 
tained the barrios whenever their boundaries did not infringe 
upon tlie Traza, Surviving capullis and capultecos became 

religious doctxinas wherein missionaries propagated the faith, 

26 
and parish churches and chapels replaced pagan altars. 

Hospitals, cemeteries, prisons, and garbage dumps were located 

27 ■ • 
in the barrios. 

There were many changes from conquest to independence. 

The Traza's military function became an anachronism, and 

2 8 
mestizo replaced Indian in most areas. Economic speciali- 
zation derived from the needs of a Europeanized city. The 
barrios served as administrative units during the early years 

of independence. Unlike the barrios of other Latin American 

29 
cities, they had a recognized center and boundaries. The 

population identified itself with its traditional barrio 

rather than the manzana . Suspected criminals and vagrants 

referred to their barrios when giving addresses, and the 

legal addresses on wills or other public documents stated 

5 

barrios rather than cuarteles . In 1829 the ayuntamiento 

3 1 
organized the inscription of civic militia by barrios. 

In all cities of Spanish colonial design, the con- 
centration of government buildings and main market in the 



center of the city promoted the geographical and social con- 
centration of population and industry. Although the garitas 
lay as far as three miles from the central plaza, the build- 
ings clustered two miles east-west and one and three-quarters 

3 2 
miles north-south. Concentration of the population was 

more intense than the clustering of the buildings indicates. 
A circle of 1,000-yard radius, whose center was in the middle 
of the Plaza de la Constitucion, would enclose over two thirds 
of the population counted in the census of 1847." The desir- 
ability of residence near the center lured people to settle 
even the swampy land on the southern and eastern fringes. 

The numerous facilities of the Traza integrated the 
city socially and economically. The Plaza de la Constitucion 
was important as a ceremonial and political-administrative 
center and is discussed as a separate unit. "The peasant 
and the Marquesa" prayed together at the Catedral Nacional's 

daily Masses. The poor, however, were excluded from more 

, . . . 3 4 
important religious rites. On Easter Sunday the announce- 
ment from the Catedral that Christ had risen, signaled by 
artillery salvos and church bells, triggered joyous city- 
wide celebrations. On Corpus Christi Sunday, processions 
organized by every civic and religious corporation — and led 
by the president, his cabinet, the aijuntamicnto , and the 
diplomatic corps — would march separately to the Catedral. 
After the Mass, the procession, accompanied by as many as 

forty thousand spectators, would parade through the principal 

3 5 
streets. 



10 



The Plaza de la Conscitucion was also a secular 
ceremonial center. On September 17, Independence Day, 
crowds would jam the square for hoiars to be serenaded by 
military bands and to enjoy the fiesta atmosphere. After 
the formal celebrations, the citizens and musicians would 

3 6 

disperse to the barrios for an evening of revelry. 

During crises the Plaza de la Constitucion was the 
-political nerve center of the entire city. During the 
copper currency devaluations of 1837 and 1841, it filled 

with mobs of hungry, angry poor demanding price controls 

37 
and the forced opening of bakeries and grocery stores. 

During revolutions crowds gathered in tlie Plaza to be 

goaded into action by irate politicians. In front of the 

buildings of the ayuntamiento on November 31, 1844, the 

public reading of the Plan de Jalapa ignited popular riot- 

38 
ing that resulted in the overthrow of General Santa Anna. 

In 1849 republican po.liticians within the Palacio Nacional 

harangued a mob to the riotous overthrow of the monarchist 

39 
ayuntamiento . 

The Plaza was the commercial center for shops 

catering to the wea].thy. Expensive watch and jewelry shops 

clustered under the Portales de los Mercadores in its south- 

40 

western corner and on the nearby Calle de los P].ateros. 
The Parian, a collection of stalls surrounded by wooden 
walls, occupied the southwestern corner. Before 1828 it 
was an emporium of imported merchandise, famous foi" clothes 



11 



that excited stylish young men and women. Its strongboxes 

contained their owners' capital and substantial savings de- 

41 
posits belonging to prosperous merchants and professionals. 

After its sacking by an angry mob in the 1828 Revolution of 

the Acordada, its merchants, in greatly reduced circumstances, 

4 2 . ^ 

traded more in locally produced goods. The Parian remained 

unti.L demolition in 1843 a dilapidated eyesore, its name a 

43 
synonym for mob terror. 

The Plaza de la Constitucion was a recreational area 

for the populace. During a normal day, as many as 4,000 

idlers surveyed the transaction of public and private busi- 

44 
ness. On moonlit nights citizens strolled the spacious 

square, enjoying the play of moonlight on the Catedral's 
twin spires and the magnificent view of snow-capped Popoca- 
tepetl and Atlixtahuil-. The wealthy paused for refreshment 
at the cafes and pastry shops on nearby streets. The poor 

refreshed themselves with purchases from the ambulatory 

4 5 
vendors who plied their trade withm the square. 

Outside the main square were two buildings of signi- 
ficance to the political life of Mexico City — the Ciudadela, 
crumbling, fortress-like arsenal; and the Acordada, fore- 
boding national prison — close together on the western fringes 
of the city. Tlie Ciudadela provided conspirators with a 
convenient source of weapons. The clandestine movement of 

troops or ammunition into it always heralded the approach 

4 6 
of a pronuncimiento . Artillery duels between the Ciudadela 



12 



and Che Palacio Naciona], took their heaviest toll from among 
the civilians residing between the two buildings. During 
the attempted overthrow of President Anastasio Bustamante, 
by Valentin Gomez Farias in July 1840, 180 civilians were ■ 
killed and more were mutilated by indiscriminate cannon 
fire. 

The Acordada, a few hundred yards north of the Ciuda- 

dela, contained men willing to serve any cause for the price 

4 8 4 9 

of a pardon. The prison itself was a center of conspiracy. 

In late November 1828, Lorenzo Zavala and his fellow York 

Rite Masons plotted the fateful Revolution of the Acordada 

that prevented President-Elect Manuel Gomez Pedraza from 

taking office and launched Mexico into a half-century of 

political chaos. 

The Aduana, according to Guillermo Prieto, the era's 

best-known memoirist, was "as plebian as smallpox." 



The heavy traffic of mules and carts through 
the great gates. The heaps of bales left for 
inspection in the broad patios; the bewilder- 
ing noise of hammers and crowbars; the customs 
inspectors, schedules clutched tightly in hand, 
examining invoices, discovering irregularities, 
and arguing with proprietors and clerks; and 
the multitude of Indians, mule skinners, 
clerks, and money changers who penetrated the 
of f ice.^^ 



The activity imparted a bustling mercantile character to the 
Aduana and the adjoining Plaza de Santo Domingo. 



13 



Mexico City's central and special markets were 
tourist attractions that hummed with the transaction of 
daily business. The principal meat and vegetable market at 
the Plaza del Volador was over fifty years old, in an ad- 
vanced state of disrepair, and so notorious as a meeting 

place of evildoers that in 1843 the city recommended its 

5 1 
demolition. The market, however, remained until 1863 when 

5 2 
it was replaced by the enormous Mercado de la Merced. 

Tlie aristocracy of the market consisted of merchants who 

rented its rotting wooden stalls. The most common merchant, 

however, Xv^as the Indian who, seated upon a filthy blanket 

with his wares, clogged the market's passageways and en- 

5 3 
trances. Stall holders complained that the Indian mer- 
chant, who operated illegally, blocked traffic and harmed 

5 4 

business. Decrees of the ayuntamiento banning the Indians 
from the market place were never enforced. Throughout the 
first decades of the nineteenth century, the decrepit stalls 
and blanket stands of the Plaza del Volador offered such a 
variety of meat and vegetables, at such economical prices, 
that rich and poor alike sought their residences close to 

5 5 , 
It. 

The Baratillo located in the Plaza del Factor, 100 
yards northwest of the central plaza, was the "Rag Fair" or 
"Petticoat Lane" of Mexico City. Foreigners noted the many 
odds and ends to be purchased at the Baratillo, but failed 
to notice its principal business, the sale of the secondhand 



14 



5 6 
clothing that dressed the poor. To the perpetual annoy- 



an 



ce of the authorities, the market v/as the capital's main 



57 -, , 

entrepot for stolen goods. Its customers and merchants 

were well represented among the defendants tried daily be- 
fore the city's magistrates. Its merchants were an unruly 
lot. Dissatisfied with the location, they once boldly moved 
their stalls to the Plaza de Santo Domingo. Only the arrival 

of overwhelming force convinced them to return to the Plaza 

5 8 
del Factor. 

The Plazuela de San Juan specialized in selling 

5 9 
shoes to poor people. Other m.arkets scattered throughout 

the city specialized in the sale of lime, poultry, mules, 

60 . , , , 
and building materials. Mexicans boasted that a person 

looking for any item had merely to ask for the location of 

61 
the appropriately named street. 

Poor Mexicans preferred to live close to their place 

of work. At least 40 percent of the vagrancy suspects who 

gave both their own addresses and those of their employers 

lived two blocks from their place of work. Such localism 

made the barrios of the independence period self-sufficient. 

Typical barrios like San Salvador el Seco and Necatitlan 

were poor, containing a few small grocery stores, a public 

II bath if the neighborhood lacked an aqueduct or fountain, a 

62 , 
pawnshop or two, and a wine or pulque shop. Artisans 

worked in their homes or in a few larger workshops. Cer- 
tain industrial or commercial specializations existed. San 



15 



Salvador el Seco was known as La Carrocerxa because it 

63 
contained a large carriage-manufacturing business. San 

Juan, Candelaria, and Santa Anna were entrepots for the 

provisioning of the city. San Juan's plaza specialized in 

building materials; Candelaria' s , in fowl; and Santa Anna's 

64 
Calle Real was the central distributing point for pulque. 

Residents endowed, each barrio with a distinctive 

personality. Santa Anna, athwart the great north-south 

road, was notorious for high-living arrieros (mule skinners), 

6 5 
and highwaymen frequented its many inns. San Sebastian 

and El Carmen, relatively close to the ' center of the city, 

housed romance-smitten seamstresses, rakish public coachmen 

and wagoners, and industrious artisans toiling in the single 

rooms that served as bedroom and workshop. The eastern 

barrios of San Lazaro, La Soledad, La Raima, and Mazanares 

held the populacho and leperos , daring rogues who lived 

from the proceeds of casual labor and petty crime. In the 

southern barrios of San Pablo, San Antonio Abad, and Salto 

del Agua, boatmen, impoverished clerks, and women cigar 

makers worked and played. The inhabitants of the extreme 

southeastern barrios bordering the trash dumps and the 

Cemeterio de Campo Florida vjere wretched scavengers who 

6 6 
subsisted on offal. 

The barrio's plaza, often filthy and obstructed, 

was the only recreational center. The Plaza de Necatitlan 

and an area fronting the Garita de Peravillo accommodated 



16 



sites for the carnival-like Jamaica and impromptu corridas 

(bullfights). Gabriel Ferry, a French resident, witnessed 

6 9 
one Plaza de Necatitlan corrida which drew 12,000 spectators. 

More skilled corridas were held in the municipal bull ring 

at the Plaza de San Pablo, conveniently close to the Rastro. 

Corridas were held there until 1851 when General Santa Anna 

inaugurated his last regime by erecting a new ring west of 

70 

the city. Attendance at San Pablo was usually 11,000. 

The most popular form of recreation v/as strolling in 
the fresh air of the city's pastoral outskirts. The Alameda, 

a spacious park on the western fringes, was thickly planted 

7 1 - . 

with elms. On feast days it was crowded with ladies m 

carriages, gentlemen on horseback, and pedestrian leperos. 

South of the Alameda and endowed with its pleasant rusticity 

was the wealthy suburb of San Cosme where Fanny Calderon de 

la Barca resided — the Scottish-American wife of Spain's first 

ambassador to Mexico, whose published letters and diaries 

have revealed so much of the capital's s'ociety. 

The broad avenue of Bucareli lead to the slopes of 

Chapul tepee and was a favorite for equestrians and pedestrians. 



Every evening, but more especiaJ.ly on Sundays 
and fete days, which last are nearly innumer- 
able, from four o'clock until six or seven 
may be seen two long rows of carriages filled 
with- ladies; crowds of gentlemen on horseback, 
riding dowi^ the middle between the carriages; 
soldiers at intervals, attending to the preser- 
vation of public order; and multitudes of 
conmion people and leperos mingled with some 
well-bred gentlemen on foot. 



17 



Tlie pleasant paseo (promenade) was marred occasionally by 

7 3 
the sight of garroted highwaymen mounted for public display. 

The pastoral footpath and canal of the Paseo de la 

Viga on the southeastern fringes of the city were famous 

for beauty of tree and flower. 



T\\ro long lines of carriages are to be seen 
coming and going as far as the eye can 
reach, and hundreds of gay plebians are 
assembled on the sidewalks, with flowers 
and dulces for sale; and innumerable eques- 
trians in picturesque dresses, and with 
spirited horses, fill up the interval be- 
tween the carriages and the canoes covering 
the canal, the Indians singing and dancing 
lazily as the boats steal along, and under 
a blue and cloudless sky and in that pure, 
clear atmosphere. ^"t 



At the prairie of Belen in the southwest, poorer people 

75 
danced to the harp and guitar of sidewalk musicians. 

The upper classes of a city known for the absence of 
an "ostentatious display of wealth" took exception to flaunt 
their wealth on the paseos . Fanny Calderon de la Barca con- 
trasted the somber dignity of the carriages owned by the 
older families xv^ith the gaudy luxury of those owned by 
wealthy speculators or smugglers. The equipage of one pros- 
perous smuggler consisted of a gold-embroidered suit, a 
sombrero with gold rolls, and a saddle "covered with velvet 
and richly embossed with massive gold" worth $5,000. Noting 
the wealth of the equestrians and the poverty of the pedestrians 



18 



on the Paseo de la Viga , senora de la Barca was moved to 
remark that Mexico was not really a republic, "for there 
was no connecting ].ink between the blankets and the satins. 

,,7 6 

between the poppies and the diamonds. 



Economy 

Mexico City's economy produced goods and services by 
archaic methods for its own use. The only commodity ex- 
ported to the nation at large was an ineffective government. 
The government, however, was one of the capital's largest 

employers. The centralized and conservative Plan de Tacubaya 

7 7 
(1842) projected the employment of 690 civil servants. 

The more representative federal government of 1851 employed 

667 civil servants, 856 if one counts the salaried congress- 

7 S 

men. The number of employees was larger because it was 
common for government departments to hire agregados (unau- 
thorized, unlisted personnel) . The national bureaucracy was 
augmented by at least 100 employees of the ayuntamiento and 

7 9 

150 employees of the archbishopric. The census of 1849 
indicates that about 3 percent of the male labor force were 
employed by the national, municipal, or ecclesi.astical 
bureaucracy. 

The government's importance to the economy transcende( 
that of being the largest employer. 



19 



Trade, industry, mining, agriculture were 
secondary to the financing of government 
operations. The federal government had 
to depend on merchants to finance a bud- 
get of 10 to 20 million pesos a year. . . . 
. . . Due to the discount on government 
bonds, profits of 400 percent could be 
made. Mercantile loans, in contrast, varied 
from 12 to 24 percent a month. ^'' 



Because the city's largest financiers and merchants invested 
heavily in government securities, the credit structure of 
industry and commerce depended upon government solvency. 

Commerce and industry employed the bulk of the capi- 
tal's population. Most enterprises engaged in retail commerce. 
Table B-1 shows that frequently listed among the 2,672 
businesses on the commercial census of 1843 were tendejones 
and tendejones de alborrotes mestizas (small grocery stores) 
which sold food and drink. Carbonerias and carnicerias (char- 
coal and butcher shops) were the second and third largest 
classes of enterprise. Most commercial enterprises were 
small and produced minimal profits. Table 1 shows that the 
net annual income of several common types of businesses was 
S200 or less. The low income is understandable; it took but 
$20 of capital to operate a small but successful clothing 
store at the Parian. 

Industrial production employed nearly 40 percent of 
the adult male population. Joel Poinsett, the United States' 
first ambassador to Mexico, reported in .1822 that the capital 
hummed with the activity of its numerous workshops producing 



20 



everything from cigars to coaches despite a decade-long 

8 2 

battle for independence. The branches of the Junta de 
Fomento de Artesanos (Committee for the Advancement of Arti- 
sans) , listed in Table 2, were the most important and tech- 
nically advanced industries. Table B-2, based on the in- 
dustrial census of 1843, lists the sixteen most common in- 
dustries. The most numerous — carpentry, shoemaking, food 
processing, tailoring, and textile manufacturing — account 
for 34 percent of the total. The sixteen largest categories 
account for only half of the total number of industries on 
the entire census. 

A few textile factories were modern by the standards 
of the early Industrial Revolution. Five of the thirteen 
workshops listed as factories by the Junta de Fomento de 
Indus tria in 1843 used equipment powered by steam, animals, 
or water. Jan Bazant, historian of Mexico's early textile 
industry, estimated each factory employed an average of 200 

o n 

workers for a total of 1,000 workers. " Other industries 
were large scale and heavily capitalized but did not use 

modern machinery. A bakery might be capitalized at $8,000 

8 4 
to $15,000 and employ fifty operatives. The Estanco 

(government-operated tobacco factory) employed from 400 to , 

o c 

2,000 men and women. ' Scores of tailoring, shoemaking, and 
textile workshops employed too many workers for their owners 
to recognize by name. 



21 



Thousands of talleres publicos (small xTOrkshops) 
accomplished the bulk of the capital's industrial produc- 

'S 7 

tion. According to a survey conducted in 1844, seventy- 
five carpentry shops employed an average of two officials 
and one apprentice. Twenty-three employed no one, and 
fifty-one did not employ apprentices. Thirty workshops 

listed on the industrial census of 1849 employed an average 

89 
of three journeymen. 

Capital invested in plant and equipment was gen- 
erally small by the standards of nineteenth-century indus- 
trialized Europe. Table B-4 gives the $48 inventory of a 
carpentry shop confiscated for debt in 1851. The thirty 
shops on the industrial census of 1849 show an average capi- 
tal expenditure of $49, but the largest ones had substan- 

9 
tial investments over $1,000. Only 30 percent of two 

thouSeind industrial enterprises on the census of 1843 were 
valuable enough to be assessed a direct ta.x. 

The economy of the city was in an advanced state of 
decay and would remain so for a half-century. General de- 
pression afflicted a nation wasted by wars of independence 
(1810-1821) and by the severance of traditional economic 
ties. In 1844 statesman and essayist Mariano Otero ex- 
plained the plight of the once prosperous colony. Mining, 
the former source of wealth and the most promising export 
industry, languished due to the wars of independence, a 
shortage of mercury, and the frequent paralysis of trade 



22 



caused by revolutions. Sufficient foreign capital could not 
be obtained to revive it because foreign investors feared 
Mexico's political instability and because wealthy Mexicans 
wasted potential capital on imported luxuries or invested in 
speculative government securities. Without the stimulus of 
the mining industry, the nation seemed trapped in a vicious 
cycle. Mexico was largely agricultural but its agriculture 
produced only simple crops for a local market. Agriculture 
needed increased demand from the cities in order to expand. 
This hinged on the growth of urban population which could 
not increase without industrial development which was im- 
possible without the capital generated by the mining indus- 
try. Consequently, backward urban industries produced crude 

products for a local market, and processed foods and many 

92 
agricultural raw materials were imported from abroad. 

The economic depression quickly followed independence. 

In 1823 the capital's merchants complained to the ayuntamiento: 



Nobody can hide from the fact that it [com- 
merce] is but a shade of what it was in the 
past. Many of the stores selling Asian and 
European goods, and even those selling the 
principal agricultural products of the coun- 
try, have closed entirely or have been con- 
verted into tailor shops, cafes, pastry 
shops, or butcher shops. What large stores 
remain of the many whose existence merchants 
considered to be an indispensable condition 
of commerce? Where is the enormous capital 
that they once generated? With the excep- 
tion of a small amount that stands out be- 



23 



cause it is so rare, most capital is 
already pledged to pay outstanding debts. 
A great amount of capital has left Mexico 
with its Spanish owners .... 

. . . In a word, the commerce of Mexi- 
co City is not the same as it formerly 
was due to the shortage of specie, re- 
sulting from the failure of the mines, 
the sequestration of the pious funds, and 
the inability of the treasury to pay the 
millions that it owes to the bureaucracy, 
foreign creditors, and the army. And 
when the debts are paid in copper coins 
or paper scrip that foreigners will not 
accept in payment for imported merchan- 
dise, the mercantile sector is paralyzed. 53 



The evils evident in 1823 intensified over time. 
Political instability harmed the capital's economy in the 
long run and the short run. Every revolution temporarily 
halted commerce and industry even when street fighting did 
not occur. If an army cut the government's linlc to the port 
of Vera Cruz, whose customs duties were the principal source 
of revenue, the government failed to meet its obligations, 

9 4 

and commercial credit disappeared. Measures to restore 
the economy after a revolution often proved counterproduc- 
tive. To revive the commerce harmed by the Revolution of 
September 1841, General Santa Anna suspended the payment 
of a].l debts contracted between August 31 and October 7. 

Until payment resumed one month later, commercial credit 

9 5 
disappeared and the economy halted. 

The Semanario Artistico , weekly newspaper of the 

Junta de Fomento de Artesanos, presented this editorial on 

the effects of revolutionary crises on artisanal industries: 



24 



Artisans especially are subject to personal 
crises that threaten not only their exis- 
tence but those of their families. Civil 
disorders produce tVie same results because, 
altering the public confidence, they para- 
lyze when they do not dry up the sources of 
work. The epidemics are less terrible and 
less dangerous for the operative than the 
great political crises because the epidemics 
increase the danger of life but do not para- 
lyze work.'-"' 



Political instability fed on government bankruptcy ' 
to depress further the contracted economy. Every revolution 

or war created a budgetary crisis as expenses rose and the 

9 7 
customary source of revenue disappeared. The closing of 

the port of Vera Cruz during the Pastry War with France 

in 1838 cost the government $5 million. To cover expenses, 

it minted worthless copper money or took out loans at extra- 

98 
ordinarily high rates of interest. From 1825 the deficit 

in the treasury became permanent. Table 3 shows the gap be- 
tween government revenues and expenditures for the year 1844. 
To pay off its agiotistas (creditors) , the government gave 
them control of the customs houses and further diminished 
its revenues. 

The repayment of government bonds harmed the economy 

by withdrawing large amounts of funds from commerce and in- 

9 9 
dustry. Failure to repay the bond holders meant that com- 
mercial credit, largely in the hands of the agiotistas , dis- 
appeared. The Semanario Artlstico noted that the government 
bankruptcy of 1844 produced "the paralysis of business, public 



25 



misery, and private necessity within a nation worthy of a 

.,1 
better fate." 

Bankruptcy affected the bureaucracy through reduced 

salaries and threatened unemployment. As early as 1825, un- 

1 1 
paxd civil servants hectored the government for their salaries. 



By 1831 the discounting of civil-service salaries was 



common- 



1 U2 

place. At the beginning of Valentin Gomez Farias's vice- 
presidency (1833), retired military personnel, pensioners, 

103 
and civil servants had not received their pay for six months. 

By 1834 most civi]. servants were on half-pay or receiving 

discounted salaries. To discount salaries and to default on 

1 04 
payment was the rule throughout the decade of 1840. 

To pare expenses, the government laid off personnel. 

The first-kno\m reduction in force occurred in 1828, and 

10 5 
the practice persisted at least until 1850. Although one 

is inclined to believe that the dismissed employees were 

promptly rehired or replaced by others, the constant threat 

of dismissal made the economic standing of the civil servant 

106 . 

precarious . 

The black humor of the era mocked the bureaucracy's 
impoverishment. The first requirement for a minor civil ser- 
vant was that "he must accept with a good will a salary as ' 

10 7 

scarce as it was poorly paid." Another wag commented that 



a devoted servant of the nation will have 
to take the bad with the good; after all, 
it's not impossible for a man to support 
his family on five pesos a month.' '^'^ 



26 



Table C-1 contrasCs bureaucraLic salaries with the average 
yearly earnings of the artisans listed on the industrial cen- 
sus of 1849. The average civil servant's salary of $1,080 
is over seven times the wage earner's annual income of $156. 
The bureaucrats, along with some 200 lawyers and doctors, 
possessed the potential of a prosperous middle class whose 
deman,ds for goods and services might have invigorated the 
otherwise contracted and depressed economy. The Semanario 

Artistico listed the impoverishment of the bureaucracy as one 

10 9 
of several causes in the chronic industrial depression. 

The minting of worthless copper coinage damaged the 
economy. The coinage, first struck in 1824, circulated 
throughout the three decades of independence. Its issuance, 
circulation, and inevitable devaluation produced cycles of 
inflation followed by depression. The copper coin was offi- 
cially valued at $.25 and intrinsically worth $.125. It was 
very easily counterfeited. In 1841 only one tenth of the 
■daily operating cash of the Hospital de San Hipolito was in 
legal tender; the remainder was counterfeit. During the 
devaluation of 1841, only 7 of the 700 pesos collected at 

^U . • T ■ .111 

the national mint were genuine. Counterfeiting caused 
the real value of the coinage to plunge to $.0625. The mani- 
pulation of speculators who purchased huge quantities of the 
copper money in hope of an advantageous later redemption 
caused the value of the currency to gyrate wildly. 

The circulation of a currency "enormous in quantity. 



27 



mostly counterfeit, and having a purely imaginary value" 

caused "fatal fluctuations in mercantile transactions and 

„l 1 3 
contracts. When the value of the worthless coinage fell 

drastically, storekeepers refused to be paid in it. Instead, 
the small merchant, especially the owners of the small gro- 
cery stores patronized by the poor, issued currency carved 
from soap, wood, or other materials. A desperate government 
would pass legislation requiring that the public pay at least 

one tenth to one quarter of all business transactions in 

1 1 4 
copper money. 

Devaluation was the last resort. The devaluations 

of 1837 and 1841 only aggravated the plight of the economy. 

At the very rumor of devaluation, s tores--particularly 

bakeries, butcher shops, and groceries — would close to avoid 

the accumulation of the worthless coins. The government 

passed laws forbidding closure and required that food and 

other articles of primary necessity be sold at low prices. 

The suppliers of food, who lived outside the jurisdiction of 

the ayuntamiento, frustrated the laws by refusing to sell 

their products to the shopkeepers for anything but silver. 

Months before a devaluation date, shops remained open with 

115 
nothing on their shelves. 

The law required the merchants to turn in their 

stocks of copper money to the government on the promise that 

they would be repaid in new currency within six months. This 

procedure deprived merchants of operating capital, profits, 



28 



TABLE 1 
ANNUAL INCOME OF COMMERCIAL ESTABLISHMENTS, 1848 



Enterprise Income in Pesos^ 



Warehouses 

6 ■ 1,200 
10 970 

12 , 720 
33 • . 500 
30 240 

Imported-clo thing 

stores ■ 

10 . 400 
4 ■ 300 

13 ' ■ 200 
13 . 100 

11 50 

Grocery stores ■. 

3 ■ 800 

7 ■ ■ 600 
6 ■ 500 

20 400 
^5 200 
^3 100 

21 50 



SOURCE: AACM, tomo 2021, exp. 68, 
One peso was equivalent to US$1. 



29 



TABLE 2 
BRANCHES OF THE JUNTA DE FOMENTO DE ARTESANOS 



Carpentry Silversmi thing 

Blacksmlthing ' VJatchmaking 

Weaving Purse making 

Tailoring ^ Lithography 

Shoemaking Brass working 

Carriage making Pottery making 

Tinsmi thing Sculpturing 

Painting Architecture (construction) 

Barrel making Button making 

Leather working Piano making 

Embroidery Goldsmithing 

Copper working , Gunsmithery 

Tanning 



SOURCE: "Fomento de las artes," Semanario Artistico , 9 agosto 
1844, p. 3. 



TABLE 3 
MEXICAN BUDGET, 1844 



Income . $25,905,348 

Budgeted expenses 25,336,430 

Foreign and domestic debt 10,000,000 

Additional revenue required ' 9,431,082 



SOURCE: Agustxn Cue Canovas , Historia social y economica de 
Mexico (1521-1854) {Mexico, D.F., 1963), p. 368. 



30 



TABLE 4 
OCCUPATIONAL-CATEGORY /MEM-RENT CORRELATION 



Occupatioa Mean Rent % Population 

Upper $24 ' 2 6 

Artisan^ 5 ' " 42 

Unskilled 3 2 3 

Unknown — 9 

Total number of cases 1,009 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census 
of 1849, AACM, tomos 3409, 3413. 

NOTE: "$" signifies pesos unless otherwise indicated. Be- 
cause Mexican currency is divided into eighths and because 
the computer calculates by decimals, the mean rents contain 
a small negative error. 

Foreign artisans included. 



TABLE 5 

COMPARISON OF THE MEAN RENTS OF OCCUPATIONAL 

CATEGORIES IN THE TRAZA AND BARRIOS 



Class Traza Barrios 

Upper $27 $16 

Artisan 9 . 2 

Unskilled ' 4 2 



Total number of cases 1,009 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census 
of 1849, AACM, tomos 3409, 3413. 



31 



TABLE 6 

OCCUPATIONAL CATEGORIES OF NATIVES OF MEXICO CITY, 

INTERNAL MIGRANTS, AND FOREIGNERS 









% 
Mexico City 


7 


Int 


ernal 


% 




D.F. 




States 


Foreigners 


Upper 




■24 




20 




22 


63 


Artisans 




46 




27 




43 


23 


Unskilled 




23 




42 




31 


6 


Unknown 




7 




11 




4 


8 


Total 


cases 


1,339 













SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census 
of 1849, AACM, tomos 3409, 3413. 



TABLE 7 
OCCUPATIONAL CATEGORIES BY SPECIFIC GEOGRAPHICAL ORIGIN 





Area 


% 
Pop 


Total 
ulation 


Upper 


% 
Artisan 


7 

Unskilled 


D.F. 




2 


20 


27 


42 


Guanajuato 




2 


35 


35 


24 


Hidalgo 




3 


30 


23 


43 


Jalisco 




1 


33 


33 


■ 33 


Mexico 
(state) 




5 


12 


39 


■37 


Michoacan 




2 


14 


55 


27 


Puebla 




3 


27 


50 


12 


Queretaro 




2 


17 


55 


17 


San Luis 
Potosi 




1 


25 


33 


42 


Vera Cruz 




1 


13 


60 


7 


Oaxaca, Colima 












Chiapas, Nuevo 




1 


41 


24 


24 


Leon 












Unidentified 




4 


23 


23 


39 


Total cases 


352 






' 





SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the' author from the census 
of 1849, AACM, tomos 3049, 3413. 



32 



TABLE 8 
URBAN ORIGINS OF IMMIGRANTS 



State 



% Migrants 



D.F. 
Guanajuato 

Hidalgo 



Jalisco 
Mexico 



Michoacan 



Puebla 
Queretaro 

San Luis Potosi 
Vera Cruz 



Total cases 357 



12 



3 

24 



11 



3 
5 



City 



Guanajuato 


5 


Acambaro 


1 


Pachuca 


2 


Real del Monte 


1 


Tulancingo 


2 


Apam 


1 


Guadalajara 


3 


Toluca 


9 


Texcoco 


5 


Zumpango 


2 


Morelia 


3 


Zamora 


1 


Sitacuaro 


1 


Puebla 


9 


Queretaro 


6 


Celaya 


1 


San Luis Potosi 


3 


Jalapa 


2 


Vera Cruz 


1 


Orizaba 


1 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census 
of 1849, AACM, tomos 3409, 3413. 



33 



TABLE 9 
COMPARISON OF MEAN RENT BY ORIGIN AND OCCUPATION 



Origin Upper Artisan Unskilled 



$22 $ 3 $ 3 

8 3 1 

18 ■ 3 3 

34 45 14 



Mexico CI 


ty 






D.F. 








States 








Foreign 








Unidentif 


led 






Mean for 


each 






category 








Mean rent 


for 






Mexico C 


ity 


$10 




Total 


cases 


1, 


009 



10^ 



24 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census 
of 1849, AACM, tomos 3409, 3413. 



TABLE 10 
MEAN RENT BY SPECIFIC ORIGIN BY OCCUPATION 





Origin 


Upper 


Artisan 


Unskilled 


D.F. 


7 


3 


2 


Guanajuato 


30 


3 


3 


Hidalgo 


11 


3 


4 


Jalisco 


18 


4 


1 


Mexico (state) ■ 


30 


2 


2 


Michoacan 


14 


3 


3 


Puebla 


19 


2 


2 


Queretaro 


15 


4 


2 


San Luis Potosi 


2,2 


1 


1 


Vera Cruz 


34 


11 


2 


Other 


7 


4 


2 


Total cases 352 









SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census 
of 1349, A_ACM, tomos 3409, 3413. 



34 



and personal income for an entire year. During the devalua- 
tion of 1841, many merchants chose to go out of business 
rather than place their money in the hands of a government 
whose promises tliey considered worthless. 

Devaluation did not check the use of copper money. 

1 1 7 
The coinage of 1837 was replaced by one equally overvalued. 

Soon the counterfeiters were at work insuring that the new 

1 1 H 

money was as worthless as the old. As late as 1853 copper 

money was in circulation, wreaking havoc upon the commerce 

1 1 9 
of the city. 

Foreign manufactures, both those permitted by special 
license and those smuggled, crippled Mexico City's economy. 
From 1824 to 1828 Mexico experimented with a policy of un- 
restricted free trade whose net effect was to depress native 

1 2 
industry, particularly textile manufacturing. The results 

of free trade, according to its critics, were the near ex- 
tinction of the tanning, textile, glassmaking, and hat making 
industries. After 1828 a restrictive tariff policy permitting 
the entrance of goods, that native artisans did not manufacture, 

but forbidding the importation of goods that competed Xirith 

] 2 1 
native manufactures, lasted for twenty years. - 

Governments in straitened circumsta.nces granted spe- 
cial permits to import prohibited goods in hope of receiving 
extra revenues. These excursions from "protectionism hurt the 
economy of the capital. In 1841 the government of General 
Mariano Arista granted a permit to import cotton thread in 



35 



expectation of receiving $170,000 of extra customs revenues. 
Upon notification of the proposed importation, the nation's 
textile manufacturers printed a petition warning that the 
measure would force the closure of the native-owned mills/ ^^ 
The ayuntamiento sprang to the defense of this important sec- 
tor of the local economy by printing a petition stating that 
the measure would "deprive the miserable classes that unfor- 
tunately abound in our country of any hope or belief."^ ^^ 

The illegal introduction of contraband did serious 
damage to the economy of the city. Although the inability 
of the government to enforce protectionism was evident from 
the inception of the policy, smuggling reached blatant pro- 
portions by 1840. In 1841 the ayuntamiento estimated that 
the amount of contraband thread entering the country would 
surpass the 8 million pounds of legally imported thread.'"'* 
Factories near the coast became illegal way stations where 
smuggled textiles were marked with the national stamp. In 
1844 the government ordered the closure of coastal factories 
and the public burning of seized contraband. " After 1847 
Mexican protectionism became a dead letter as the North 
American administrators of the ports of Matzatlan, Tampico, ' 
and Vera Cruz ignored the laws and allowed a flood of contra- 
band to enter the country. " ■ 

Contraband easily found its way. into Mexico City. 
In 1841, 1842, and 1843, Siglo Diez y Nueve and Semanario Ar- 
tistico launched campaigns to denounce and seize the contra- 



36 



] 2 7 
band in the capital. The injury suffered by the arti- 

sanal industries was stated in a petition which 6,124 arti- 
sans sent to the ayuntamiento in 1851. Because of contra- 
band, the artisans complained, many workshops closed and 
others hovered close to bankruptcy. 



Our children and our wives lack bread, and 
the government cannot separate our necessity 
from any other social need. Bread is bought 
with money; money is earned by work, and 
there is no work due to the indiscrete and 
illegal introduction of foreign merchandise. " 



The direct competition of foreigners also damaged 
the Mexican-owned sector of the economy. Article 6 of the 
Constitution of 1824 permitted foreigners willing to convert 

to Catholicism the same civil rights and legal protection 

.12 9 
granted to Mexican citizens. The flow of foreigners into 

the capital was substantial. In 1844 over 420 foreign arti- 

13 
sans entered Mexico through the port of Vera Cruz. Al- 
though destinations were unlisted, a substantial number 
settled in Mexico City. Charles Latrobe, a North American '■ 

tourist, reported in 1833 that "many foreign artisans have 

1 3 1 
of late settled in Mexico City." The census of 1843 

counted 1,230 foreigners, or 10 percent of the total counted 

1 3 2 
population. In the census of 1849 they numbered 6 percent 

of the x)opulation. TVenty-two percent of the foreigners 

counted in 1849 were artisans. 



37 



The foreigners possessed a reputation for technical 
excellence and reliability. Their popularity with the upper 
and middle classes had two effects on the capital's economy. 
Foreign-operated industries pushed aside those operated by 
Mexicans, and foreign artisans replaced Mexicans in an 
economy of severely constricted opportunities. In 1845 a 
master blacksmith lamented his inability to employ more jour- 
neymen because "the art of blacksmithing is much reduced in 
this capital." He could sell "only balcony rails and insig- 
nificant remnants," and customers preferred to patronize 

13 3 

"the foreigners for these trifles." " The effect on na- 
tive journeymen is stated with simple eloquence by Jose Her- 
nandez, a twenty-one-year-old shoemaker arrested for vagrancy 
in 1835. 



Wiy have you dragged from my aged mother 
the comfort of her old age? For better or 
worse by my craft of shoemaker, working 
here or there, I support her existence. 
You will ask me in what workshop do I 
work, and I respond that in the workshops 
of distinction I have not worked because 
most of them are foreign. And these, when 
they hire Mexican journeymen, want those 
that have a decent exterior, and fate has 
not permitted to me the appearance to work 
in them; so that all that is left to me is 
to work among the rinconeras [those that 
lack a public workshop], and that, Sir, is 
my situation.'-^ ''^ 



Ill-feeling caused by direct competition with the 
foreigners resident in the capital led to efforts to ban 



them from commerce and industry. In 1830 native merchants' 
complained to the ayuntamiento that "foreigners entered the 
city every day unnoticed by the government and the police" 
and that "it was notorious that the streets of the city were 
sown with foreign shops." The foreigners, they alleged, did 
not fulfill the obligations of Mexican citizenship and left 
the city as soon as their fortunes were made. " The ayunta- 
miento concluded after a full legal examination of the issues 
that it was powerless to take any action. In 1843, however, 
public outcry was so great that the government of General 

Santa Anna temporarily and regretfully banned the aliens 

1 36 
from commerce. 



People 



Estimates of the capital's population ranged between 

150,000 and 160,000 in 1824 and between 176,000 and 200,000 

13 7 
in the 1840s and 1850s. All estimates lacked an accurate 

1 T o 

census upon which to base calculations. " The upper and 
middle classes were a heterogeneous assortment of indepen- 
dently wealthy, prosperous merchants, financiers, indus- 
trialists, professionals, and civil servants. This group 

will be referred to in the future as the upper classes. 

13 9 

They numbered 26 percent of the sample population of 1849. 

Because the bias of the census favored them, their percentage 
within the actual population must have been lower. 



39 



An enormous mass of laboring poor were readily iden- 
tifiable to the wea].thy who described them as "miserable 
people," "unhappy people," "the needy class," and other 
phrases descriptive of poverty. In 1841 Siglo Diez y J^ueve 
defined them as the poor artisans and wage laborers "who in 
the best of times earned scarcely enough to eat and half dress" 

14 

and who now were reduced to beggary.' This is a splendid 
working definition and it is only necessary to amplify jour- 
nalistic brevity. The laboring poor were journeymen artisans, 
unskilled laborers, street peddlers, and domestic servants, 
and their families, earning a subsistence income or less. 
In 1841 their numbers were estimated to be 160,000, or 80 
percent of a total population of 200,000. 

Occasionally, cultivated Mexicans used the archaic 
term plebe to designate the poor. Piei^e literally denoted 

all those engaged in retail commerce, manual labor, and 

.-,.142 
menial occupations. Prosperous retail merchants had not 

been considered members of the plebe since the sixteenth cen- 

1 43 
tury. By the eighteenth century the word denoted two 

groups, the artisans and the plebe infime. Artisans were 

skilled craftsmen whose importance to colonial society was 

acknowledged by their incorporation into legally recognized 

and self-regulating gremios (craft guilds). Forty-two 

14 5 

percent of the sample population were artisans. The 
plebe Infime, literally meaning the lowest portion of the 
plebe, were a polyglot mass of unskilled workers, street 



40 



peddlers, domestic servants, and artisans who labored in 

low-prestige crafts. IVcnty-nine percent of the sample 

145 
population fell into this category. The vulgar name for 

this class was the populacho . A Spanish admini.strator of 

the late colonial period estimated the plebe of his era to 

1 4 7 
amount to 80 percent of the entire population. 

The populacho was the same "poor and idle class of 

148 
half-caste Mexicans" that foreigners called leperos. 

Although their definitional criteria varied, foreign esti- 
mates of the percentage of leperos in the population approxi- 
mated that of the traditional populacho. Henr)^ Ward, the 
first British ambassador to Mexico, reported that "twenty 
thousand naked leperos" existed in the capital prior to in- 
dependence and the consequent importation of cheap British 

] 49 
textiles. Joel Poinsett, his North American rival, esti- 
mated the same number to lack fixed residences or a means of 
support in 1824. A quarter-century later a French consul 

using unspecified criteria estimated that 25 percent of the 

15 1 
population were leperos. 

The division of Mexico City's society into an upper 
class and a plebe reflects a valid occupational hierarchy 
supported by economic status. Table 4 compares the size 
and mean monthly rent of each occupational group. The mean 
rent of the upper classes i^as five times that of the artisans 
and six times that of the populacho. The rent paid by arti- 
sans was 40 percent higher than that of the unskilled. Because 



41 



of its validity, the hierarchy will be used whenever occu- 
pational characteristics are discussed. 

Although plebe and its component terms are valuable 
as a system of occupational classification, their use obscures 
rather than clarifies Mexican social reality. Artisans did 
consider themselves members of a single group united by a 
skilled craft, but great differences in wealth and interest 
separated the master artisan who ov/ned his shop from the 
journeyman whom he hired. In the eighteenth century, the mas- 
ters waged a long, bitter, and losing struggle to prevent 
employees from starting their own small businesses . "^ ^ ^ 
The differences dividing the two groups were apparent. Refer- 
ences to artesanos in the official correspondence of the 

late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries did not signify 

153 
master artisans. The final abolition of the gremio in 

1824, the vehicle through which the master exercized his 
legal monopoly on trade, temporarily muted the conflict be- . 
tween master and journeyman. Republican references to arte- 
sanos denoted both masters and journeymen. Important dif- 
ferences, however, persisted. There existed an unbridgeable 
gap between the world of Lucas Balderas, owner of a fashionable 
tailor shop specializing in military uniforms — the permanent in- 
spector of the capital's civic militia and former regidor of 
^ the cHjantamiento— and the world of Luis- Ortega, journeyman tailor 
who received materials from a public workshop to complete at 
home and who frequently worked as a waiter to make ends meet.^^^ 



42 



There was a greater gap between Balderas and the lowly 
rinconera (street-corner artisan) who squatted outside the 

casa de vecindad (apartment house) , enticing customers with 

15 5 
parodies of French fashions. Because of high economic 

and social status, master artisans cannot be included within 
the Republic's plebe. 

A. more serious objection to the use of plebe in- 
volves the crimina]. or vagrant connotations of the terms 
plebe infirne and populacho. An article appearing in the 
Museo Mexicano , a cultural publication of the period, de- 
scribed the traits associated with these elements. The 
males, who performed occupations requiring "brute instinct" 
rather than skill, earned scarcely enough to support their 
necessities which happened to be drinking and smoking. When 
unemployed, which was frequently, they apathetically dozed 
in the shade or borrowed anything worth pawning. An auda- 
cious one would become a pickpocket, expert at lifting 
scarves or watches during church services or public spec- 
tacles. When caught he was usually released to commit 
greater crimes. As for the women, they could be seen in the 
streets scrounging for discarded fruits, cigarette or cigar 
butts, and drinking mezcal in the doors of wine shops. 

The upper classes considered "the most profligate artisan" 

15 7 
to be superior to any member of that degraded class. 

Foreign descriptions of the leperos are very similar 

to Mexican descriptions of the populacho . Gabriel Ferry wrote 

of his_ lepero acquaintances: 



43 



Porter, stonemason, teamster, street 
paver, peddler — the lepero is every- 
thing at different times. . . . Al- 
though he is often a thief, he is sub- 
jected to thievery. If he earns in 
the morning enough money to live for 
a day, he stops working immediately. 
He has no capacity to save money. Un- 
employed, he idly awaits a new turn of 
fortune. ^ ^8 



Ferry also said: 



He fulfills alternatively all types of 

trades. But he is a born thief and 

steals by instinct. His life results 

in a long series of altercations with 

justice that covers him with misfor- 
tune.15 9 



In 1862 the pen of Guillermo Prieto, the period's 
most famous memoirist, immortalized the lepero as the mestizo 
cultural hero who made "love, fighting, and pulque the stuff 
of his life." Shunning armed robbery as crude, the lepero 

displayed native guile by fleecing his victims through in- 

■ -, . J ^ , 160 

geniDusly contrived frauds. Prieto 's memories had mellowed 

perhaps; his contemporaries considered the lepero a social 

menace. They believed lepero idleness to be at the root of 

the crime that plagued the capital. Brantz Mayer, a North 

American diplomat, described the relationship of the lepero' s 

life style to crime with a flair for colorful detail. 



4^ 



There on the canals around the markets 
and pulque shops, . . . these miserable 
outcasts hang all day long, feeding on 
fragments, quarreling, drinking, steal- 
ing, and lying drunk about the pavements 
with their children crying with hunger 
around them. At night they slink off 
to tliese suburbs and coil themselves up 
on the damp floors of their lairs to 
sleep off the effects of liquor and to 
.awake to another day of misery and crime. 
Is it wonderful in a city with an d.mmense 
proportion of its inhabitants of such a 
class (hopeless in the present and the 
future) that there are murderers and 
robbers?! 61 



The quantitative data point out that the unskilled 
and menial workers did not merit their unsavory reputation. 
Seventy-one' percent of all suspected vagrants were artisans; 
the most heavily represented were masons, shoemakers, tailors, 
and weavers. Twenty-nine percent of all suspects were un- 
skilled workers; peddlers, servants, street porters, and 
coachmen were the most heavily represented. The Tribunal 
de Vagos showed little prejudice against the unskilled, con- 
victing 17 percent of their total number and 16 percent of 
the artisans. The Tribunal tended to convict large numbers 
of tailors, weavers, street porters, and bakers. 

In Cuartel Menor 17, 73 percent of all male criminal 
suspects were artisans and 27 percent were unskilled. Ma- 
sons, weavers, tailors, and carpenters were the most heavily 
represented craftsmen; street porters and wax chandlers were 
the most numerous unskilled workers. Seventy percent of the 



45 



convicted criminals were artisans; and the remainder, unskilled 
workers. The court convicted disproportionately large numbers 
of masons, weavers, shoemakers, and carpenters. 

Mexican and foreign reports .leave no doubt as to the 
existence of a criminal and vagrant populacho. If the men 
arraigned before the Tribunal de Vagos and the Juzgado de 
Primera Instancia were representative leperos or members of 
the populacho, the composition and nature of the class require 
redefinition. Not a permanent group of menial workers distin- 
guishable from artisans by lack of skill, disinclination to 
work, and dishonesty, the populacho was a representative cross- 
section of the poor driven to vagrancy and crime by unemploy- 
ment and underemployment. Membership fluctuated with the 
fortunes of the economy; because of continual economic depres- 
sion, its size was always large. 

A problem of contrasting social perception arises. In 
1876 Niceto Zamacois, a Mexican historian, objected to the 
common use of the appellation of lepero to designate the lowest 
portion of the Mexican plebe. Zamacois explained that 



in Mexico the word lepero is not applied 
to anybody because he belongs to the 
lowest class of the plebe; he can belong 
to that and not merit the qualification 
as long as he occupies himself in some 
honest work. Lepero signifies truly an 
individual of low moral sphere who does 
not work at all, whose manner of living 
is unknown, and in whom all the vices 
concur. Thus it is that among the most 
humble people of society, the word is 
applied only to he who commits a very in- 
decorous act.-^'^'* 



46 



The historian's opinion is supported by the absence of 
lepero from the recorded testimonies of thousands of sus- 
pected vagrants and criminals consulted during the course of 
research. It appears on an official document in 1843 when 
a harried junior official complains that "one cannot remain 
indifferent to the disorders that the lepero commits." 
In private publications before 1843, lepero and populacho 
appear only during the course of political polemic. Both 
terms are found more frequently after 1845 when economic, 
political, and military collapse aroused fears of social 
anarchy among the upper classes . 

The rare use of lepero supports the view of Robert 
Wilson, a visitor from the United States, that lepero was 
an extremely derogatory slur to designate the poor during 
the colonial period. The word disappeared from the vocabu- 
lary after the 1828 Revolution of the Acordada when lower- 
class rioters made their presence felt in republican politics. 
Foreigners learned of the word by reading the account of 
Giovanni Francesco Gemeli (1651-1725) , a Neapolitan visitor 
to New Spain who originated the term, or by hearing it used 
in private conversations with wea].thy friends. The word, 
however, experienced the same unpopularity that nigger ex- 
perienced in modern North American society. 

Foreigners and the upper classes perceived a degraded 
class of criminals and vagrants v;hom they believed to be un- 
skilled or menial laborers. The holders of such occupations 



47 



never thought of themselves in such terms . In the 

streets, the lowest peddler called himself maestro (mas- 

167 
ter) . The meanest adolescent mandadero (errand boy)' 

hauled before the Tribunal de Vagos would protest to the 
magi.strates that he possessed an oficio (skilled craft). 
No peon del albahil (unskilled construction laborer) 
would ever admit to being less than an oficial del alba- 
hil (journeyman in construction). The waiter employed at 
the fashionable Cafe de la Bella Union or the driver of 
the municipal trash wagon considered himself to be as 
socially distant from the unskilled construction laborer 

or the street paver as the wealthiest financier from his 

, 168 
most junior clerk. In the depressed economy of Mexico 

City, any occupation, no matter how menial, gave its 
holder a certain degree of status. 

Marked patterns of residential segregation sepa- 
rated the plebe from his superior. The wealthy occupied 
the drier, more-convenient central locations of Mexico 
City while the poor resided on the wetter fringes. The 
area enclosed by a circle of five-hundred-yard radius, 
with its center at the middle of the central plaza, en- 
closed 17 percent of the population. Within that circle, the 
upper classes numbered 35 percent of the population; arti- 
sans, 32 percent; and the unskilled, 25 percent. The mean 
rent of the area was $23 compared to the mean municipal rent 



48 



of $10. Beyond the circle lived 83 percent of the population. 
Twenty-five percent of it were in the upper-class category; 
41 percent were artisans, and 23 percent were unskilled. 
The mean rent of this area was $8. The industrial census of 
1843 manifests wealthy businesses clustered in the central 
area. The interior circle contained 32 percent of the city's 
industries; the government assessed taxes on 55 percent. The 

outer ring contained 68 percent of the industries; the govern- 

1 69 
ment assessed taxes on only 21 percent however. 

The archaic separation of the Spanish Traza from the 
Indian barrio left an indelible mark upon the social distri- 
butuon of the population. The boundaries of the Traza delin- 
eated two cities. One was "worthy of being counted among the 

17 
most beautiful in the New World." The other city of the 

barrios was a city "of mud, of clogged, stinking sewers, of 

unlit streets" in which "human misery was revealed to the 

171 
most cynical publicity." 

The census of J.849 demonstrates the extent the Traza 
differed from the barrios. The population of the random sam- 
ple was evenly divided between the two areas, but because of 
the bias of the census, the population of the barrios exceeded 
that of the Traza. The Traza 's occupational composition was 
37 percent upper, 33 percent artisanal, and 22 percent un- 
skilled. That of the barrios was 15 percent upper, 50 percent 

] 7 2 

artisanal, and 22 percent unskilled. Economic division 
between Traza and barrio was evident within the occupational 



49 



divisions themselves. Table 5 compares the differences in 
mea.n rents paid by members of the occupational categories 
residing in the two areas. 

Twenty-four percent of the Traza's residents lived in 
private homes, 2(D percent in apartments, 19 percent in acces- 
orias (outbuildings), and 32 percent in single rooms. In the 
barrios, 11 percent lived in private homes, 9 percent lived 
in apartments, 10 percent in accesorias , 62 percent in single 
rooms, and 6 percent in shacks. The mean rent of the Traza 
habitations was $16; that of the barrios was $4. The Traza 
included 81 percent of the houses employing servants and 83 
percent of the capital's foreign residents. 

The poor of Mexico City were readily identifiable 

174 
as mestizos. Lucas Alaman, the Mexican statesman and his- 
torian, explained the relationship of race to social position 
when he wrote of the colonial castes. 



■From them also came the trusted servants 
of the country and in the city. Having 
much facility and much comprehension, 
they exercized all the crafts and the me- 
chanical arts, and, in sum, one could say 
that from them came the labor that was em- 
ployed in every task."'''"' 



Legal racial discrimination existed in the colonial 
period. In the last two decades of that era, however, it had 
become such an embarrassing anachronism that legal witnesses 
could be purchased, and officials were extremely perfunctory 



50 



m entering racial antecedents on legal documents. During 
the early decades of independence, the legal abolition of all 
references to race — scrupulously observed In legal documents, 
newspapers, and all but the sociological literature — demon- 
strated the popular revulsion to the colonial heritage of 
racia], discrimination. Centuries of oppression had left its 
scar upon the mestizo population. Alaman summarized the con- 
dition on the eve of the wars of independence: 



Lacking all instruction, they [the castes] 
were subject to great defects and vices, 
but with awakened spirits and vigorous 
bodies, they were susceptible to every 
thing evil and every thing good.-^'^'' 



Foreigners — mostly Spanish, French, and British — 
amounted to 6 percent of the sample population. Prosperity 
and superior training segregated the 22 percent who were mas- 
ter and journeyman artisans from the majority of native arti- 
sans. Internal migrants were an impressive 27 percent of the 
sample Mexican population. Most of them were the laboring 
poor. Table 6 contrasts the occupational composition of 
migrants to that of natives of the capital. Sixty-nine 
percent of the natives belonged to the two lowest occupational 
categories. Sixty-nine percent of all migrants from the Dis- 
trito Federal and 74 percent of those from the states of the 
Republic belonged to the lower occupational categories. 



51 



Table 7 depicts occupations of migrants from the in- 
dividual states and the Distrito Federal. Large percentages 
of artisans came from Puebla, Queretaro, Mexico, Michoacan, 
and Vera Cruz. Large percentages of unskilled came from 
Hidalgo, Mexico, and San Luis Potosi. Although the percent- 
ages of migrants in the two lower occupational categories 
approximate those of the native Mexicans, migrants were dis- 
proportionately represented among weavers, domestic servants, 
herders, street porters, water carriers, and charcoal vendors. 

Table 8 gives the urban origins of the migrants. 
Seventy percent came from the states bordering the Distrito 
Federal and Guanajuato, Queretaro, and Michoacan: urbanized- 
and economically developed areas. The majority came from the 
large cities of the states. Only 4 percent were natives of 
the rural villages in the Distrito Federal. 

Depression in home states drove migrants to the capital 
in search of work. Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Michoacan, and Quere- 
taro were devastated during the wars of independence (1810- 
1821) and were then afflicted with the depression associated with 

1 7 H 

the collapse of the mining industry. Puebla, Queretaro, 
and to a certain extent Mexico suffered from the depression of 
the textile industry, produced by the Republic's early experi- 
ment with free trade (1821-1828) and by the flood of contraband 
that followed later prohibitory tariff policies. The Semanario 
Artistico explained the false lure of the capital: 



52 



Mexico [City] appears as the center of all 
artisanal activities, attracting many opera- 
tives that come from distant places where 
they have left their workshops believing 
that they will find here abundant work. 
Nevertheless, the depressed state, in which 
unfortunately one sees our manufacturing 
industry, has not been able to provide occu- 
pations to everybody, and the privations and 
the quickening of hunger produces the incli- 
nation to steal. In former times it was 
very rare to find an artisan among thieves .■' '^^ 



Francisco Lopez Camara, a social historian, and Torcuato di 
Telia, a sociologist, projecting into the past the difficulties 
experienced by modern internal migrants in finding work, have 
assumed that nineteenth-century internal migrants were the 
primary component of the lepero population. 

Some migrants were suspected of being less respectable 
than well-intentioned seekers of work. Mexico City, according 
to a report of the ayuntamiento , was the "concourse of vagrants' 

1 Q 1 

from all over the Republic. The Ministro de Relaciones In- 
teriores (internal ministry) feared that the city was a sanc- 
tuary for men on the run who disappeared "amidst the numerous 
population and confusion of persons." These men "without 

craft or any honest occupation" were "a material ever disposed 

18 
towards tumults and disorders." 

Vagrants and notorious criminals certainly must have 

existed among the migrant population, but the quantitative 

evidence indicates that the migrants v;ere no more prone to 

crime than natives of Mexico City. Thirty-eight percent of 



53 



the suspected vagrants were migrants, and 49 percent, natives 
_of Mexico City. The Tribunal de Vagos did not discriminate 
against the migrants. Natives of Mexico City were 52 percent 
of the convicted vagrants while migrants were 40 percent. 

Migrants were not over.ly represented among the crimi- 
nals. Fifty-five percent of the criminal suspects were na- 
tives of Mexico City and the remainder were migrants. The 
percentages of natives and migrants among the criminal sus- 
pects are about the same as those of the sample blocks within 
Cuartel Manor 17. Fifty-eight percent of all convicted crimi- 
nals were natives and 42 percent were migrants. 

The dire consequences of migration described by the 
Semanario Artlstico and supported by the conclusions of Lopez 
Camara and Di Telia may never have occurred. Table 9 compares 
the mean rents of migrants with those of .natives. Except for 
unskilled workers from the Distrito Federal, migrants and 
native Mexicans in the two lowest occupational categories 
paid almost identical mean rents. Table 10 breaks down the 
mean rents of the migrants by their specific origins. Those ' 
■from Vera Cruz, Queretaro, and Cuanajuato paid higher rents, 
while those from the Distrito Federal, Mexico, Puebla, and 
San Luis Potosi paid lower rents. 

The migrants settled throughout the city. The random, 
sample docs not show any statistically significant concentra- 
tion of migrants on any one block or area of the city. There 
is evidence, however, from the barrios of San Salvador el 



54 



Seco and Necatitlan that they did not mix socially with the 
natives. The barrios' migrant population amounted to 37 and 
26 percent of their respective general populations. Only 15 
and 13 percent respectively of the barrios' married migrants 
were married to native Mexicans. The conclusion that the 
low percentages of migrant-native marriages indicate a lack 
of social integration must be tempered; large numbers of mi- 
grants undoubtedly arrived in Mexico City already married. 

The laboring poor were largely sedentary. Mexico 
City lacked a "floating population" of seasonal laborers from 
the countryside of the type that swelled the ranks of the 
Parisian poor during the eighteenth century. Unless 
driven into the capital by famine or press gangs, the In- 
dians of the surrounding rural villages preferred to stay 

] 8 4 
home rather than experience an alien and unfriendly culture. 

It is unknown whether these refugees became permanent resi- 
dents or returned as soon as conditions at home improved. 
Even the vagrants were sedentary. Ten percent of all sus- 
pected vagrants and 18 percent of all convicted vagrants 
admitted to frequent absences from Mexico City or prolonged 
residences during adulthood in other cities. However, 50 per- 
cent of the suspects and 47 percent of the convicted had 
lived in Mexico City for at least ten years. 

The labor histories of vagrancy suspects show a 
small but significant number of journeymen migrating from 
and to the city whenever economic conditions merited. A 



55 



traditional traffic ran between the capital and neighboring 
Puebla, sixty miles distant. In the late colonial period 
indebted journeymen escaped their masters by fleeing to Puebla 

1 O r 

"to hide amid the many corners of that populous city." 
Puebla' s popularity persisted among republic artisans. Agus- 
tin Baldivera, a potter, was born in Mexico City, served his 
apprenticeship in Puebla, and returned to his place of birth 
where he found employment at a public workshop owned and 
staffed by former poblanos (natives of Puebla) . Jesus 
Davila, a seventeen-year-old stone carver, traveled regularly 
between Mexico City, Puebla, and "various other places" in 
search of work. 

Others traveled farther afield. Guillermo Canales, 
a carriage maker, went to Zacatecas where he worked as a 
coachman. He then moved to Guadalajara where he tried his 

-| Q O 

hand at glass blowing. IJhen Mariano Bucolo saw his trade 
of sweet making decline after 1826, he and his wife journeyed 
to Durango where he found employment as a cabinet maker, 

and she, as a cook. Like the others, they eventually re- 

1 89 
turned to Mexico City. 

The willingness of native artisans to travel in search 
of work, together with the presence of a large body of mi- 
grants within Mexico City, reflects a homogeneity of urban 
culture that softened the disruptive effects of migration. 
The urban laboring poor possessed some knowledge of economic 
conditions outside the confines of their cities and perhaps 
a national rather than a regional identity. 



56 



Catastrophes would force people to flee or relocate 
within the city. References in the proceedings of the Tri- 
bunal de Vagos lead me to suspect that the cholera epidemic 
of 1333 caused mass flight. The occupation of Mexico City 
by the United States Army caused massive dislocation of the 
population. After the withdrawal, municipal administration. 

could hardly function because of the general depopulation 

190 
and the redistribution of the survivors within the city. 

The miserable people were not highly regarded by the 

upper classes. The "low" people were said to have vicious 

habits, live in idleness, and lack social respect. Their 

religion was an aggregate of superstitions that degraded 

true faith. They were commonly differentiated from the 

upper classes by the explanation that they acted according 

to the instincts of brutish animals rather than the rationality 

1 9 1 
of men. Mariano Otero summarized the base regard for the 

urban lower classes: 



Their common origin [with the Indians], 
the contact that they have through form- 
ing the same class, and the stagnation 
of the mechanical arts and industry has 
resulted in conserving within them the 
same ignorance and brutishness as the 
Indians; their mansion in the cities 
has served for no other purpose than to 
infect them with the vices of the upper 
classes whom they mimic. The vices, de- 
veloped by the savage character of the 
population, degrade them doubly because 
of their barbarous stupidity .^ ^- 



57 



The unmerited notoriety of the unskilled and menial 
workers has been noted. The upper classes also showed little 
regard for the artisans who were supposed to be the elite of 
the miserable people. In the late colonial period, Viceroy 
Revillagigedo (1789-1794) criticized the journeymen for 
"their general lack of education, their consequent imprudence, 
and the one thousand defects that abound in them." ^'^ Jose 
Fernandez de Lizardi's El periquillo sarniento , a social 
comedy of the last decade of colonial rule, humorously por- 
trayed the apprenticing of a European boy to a craft as an 

19 4 
unthinkable social disgrace. Mariano Otero related that 

successful artisans would not allow their sons to enter crafts, 
preferring to obtain employment for them in the civil service 
or to educate them for a life of leisure. ■* '"'' Although Otero's 
observations could describe occupational prejudices in the 
United States, he was examining a social prejudice noticeable 
to his contemporaries. After observing Mexico City's arti- 
sans, Robert Wilson concluded that they were degraded and 
lacked the social respect their counterparts in the United 



19 6 
States received. 



The era's progressives condemned the traditional dis- 
respect for manual labor; however, they criticized the jour- 
neyman's antiquated inefficiency. Their thinking is reflected 
in an editorial appearing in Siglo Diez y Nueve. The editors 
regretted that although disrespect for the artisan was not 
as great as it once was, it still existed and criticized those 



wrong-thinkers who snubbed all Mexican manufactures in favor 
of imported merchandise.' Nevertheless, it criticized the 
journeymen for their lack of punctuality, requests for ad- 
vances in wages, slothfulness , and an addiction to pulque 

and gambling. The editors did not wonder that masters pre- 

197 
f erred to employ foreigners. 

The artisans' poverty created its own reasons for 
prejudice. Jose Maria Lafragua, a republican statesman, cri- 
ticized the urban lower classes for their vices and their 
inability to defend Mexico. 



Our people are divided into two classes — 
the mixed race and the Indian. The first 
is vice ridden and, above all, is in gen- 
eral that class from which the artisans 
come, who can only serve in the national 

1 g u 

guard for the defense of a city. 



Lafragua did not wonder at the inability of the artisans to 
defend the capital against the North Americans but rather at 
the refusal of the Indian populace to rise to the patriotic 
defense of the Republic. The belief that poverty prevented 
the performance of civic duties was reflected in the writings 
of the liberal philosopher Jose Luis Maria Mora and the con- 
servative electoral restrictions that banned those earning 

19 9 
less than $200 per year from voting. 

The low opinion of the wealthy for the miserable 

people does not mean that social attitudes had not changed 



59 



in the transition from colonial to republic society. The 
contrasting attitudes of a colonial police official and the 
Museo Mexicano' s anonymous author reflect the change. In 
1783 the police official wrote of the problem of alcoholism. 
The vinateria (wine shop), he wrote, catered to judges, clerks, 
and the better sort of artisan and should be strictly regulated 
because the corruption of these useful subjects harmed society. 
The pulqueria (pulque shop) , a notorious spawning ground of 
riots and political disorders, catered to the plebe Infime 
and the poorest artisans. Some overzealous reformers suggested 
that the pulguerias be closed down or strictly regulated, but 
the official disagreed. The pulqueria, he wrote, could not 
possibly corrupt the plebe infime because that class was de- 
graded by birth. The official applied the same reasoning to 
the notorious nudity of the lowest class. How, he asked, 

could nudity be shameful or degrading to people who had known 

2 
no other way of life? 

The contributor to the Museo Mexicano wrote of the 
same people and the same vices. He confessed that a "great 
sorrow" overwhelmed him when he wrote of the populacho whom 
he characterized as "a miserable class without education, 
morality, and among whom the spirit of work is absolutely un- 
known." He finished his essay on an optimistic note. 



Cannot one think that some day education 
will erradicate these customs and make 
of these useless and in some cases harm- 
ful men useful citizens who xjill contri- 
bute with their work to the prosperity of 
the Republic?2 0l 



60 



Notes 



Brantz Mayer, Mexico As It Was and As It Is (New 
York, 1844), pp. 37, 64. 
■ 2 

Gui]lermo Prieto, Memorlas de mis tiempos (Mexico, 

D.F. , 1948) , p. 249. 

'Manuel Rivera Cambas , Mexico pintoresco , 3 tomos 
(Mexico, D.F., 1882), tomo 1, p. xxxv. 
n 
"Cantidad de aguas de lluvias que cayo en Mexico 

en el quinquenio de 1841 a 1845 . . . ," Boletin de la 
Sociedad Mexicana de Geografia y Estadistica, 1861, p. 300. 

5 
Victoriano Salado Alvarez, De Santa Anna a la Re- 

forma, memorias de un veterano (Mexico, D.F., 1902), p. 3. 

Edward B. Tylor, Anahuac , or Mexico and the Mexi- 
cans, Ancient and Modern (London, 1861), p. 65. 

7 
Donald B. Cooper, Epidemic Disease in Mexico City, 

1716-181 3, Latin American Monographs, no. 3 (Austin, Texas, 

1965) . 

s 
Fanny Calderon de la Barca, Life in Mexico, ed . 

Howard T. Fisher and Marian Hall Fisher (Garden City, New 

York, 19 70) , p . 49 . 

9 
George F. Ruxton, Adventures in Mexico and the 

Rocky Mountains (New York, 1848) . 

] 

Salado Alvarez, pp. 135-36. 

11 , ^ 

Mapa de la Ciudad de Mexico (Mexico, D.F., 1824). 

1 2 

Rivera Cambas, tomo 1, pp. 9-10, 30. Antonio Gar- 
cia Cubas, El libro de mis recuerdos (Mexico, D.F., 1945), 
pp. 200, 234. 

1 3 

Mapa de la Ciudad. 

1 4 

"Barrios de la Ciudad," Boletin Municipal , 17 marzo 

1903, p. 1. 

15. 

Rivera Cambas, tomo 2, p. 44. 

16 

Mexico City, Archive del Ayuntamiento de la Ciudad 

de Mexico (hereinafter cited as AACM) , tomo 3689, exp . 13. 

] 7 

Mapa de la Ciudad. 

- 1 8 

Edward Tayloe Thornton, Mexico, 1825-1828 (Chapel 

Hill, North Carolina, 1959), p. 64. 

1 9 

Manuel Carrera Stampa, "Pianos de la Ciudad de Mexi- 
co," Boletin de la Sociedad Mexicana de Geografia y Estadis- 
tica, tomo 67 (junio 1949), p. 228. 



61 



2 0^ ^ 

Jose Maria Marroqui, La Ciudad de Mexico, 3 tomos 

•(2da ed., Mexico, D.F., 1969), tomo 1, p. 107. 

21 

Directorio de la Ciudad de Mexico (Mexico, D.F., 
1857) . 

2 2^ 

Marroqui, tomo 1, p. 107. Juan Rodriguez de San 
Miguel, Manual de providencias economicas-politicas para uso 
de las hahitantes del Distrito Federal (Mexico, D.F., 1834), 
pp. 102-106. 

2 3 

Carrara Stampa, lamina 1, p. 321. 

24 ^ 

Marroqui, tomo 1, pp. 101-102. 

25 

Charles Gibson, The Aztecs Under Spanish Rule (Stan- 
ford, California, 1965), p. 398. 

• 26 

Ibid., pp. 370, 398. The major barrios with their 
Aztec and Christian names respectively are: Cuepopam, Santa 
Maria; Atzacualco, San Sebastian; Teopan, San Pablo; and 
Moyotlan, San Juan. 

27 

Carrera Stampa, p. 319. 

AACM, tomo 3689, exp . 43. Gibson, p. 398. 

■ 2 9 

James R. Scobie, "Buenos Aires as a Commercial-Bureau- 
cratic City, 1880-1910: Characteristics of a City's Orienta- 
tion," American Historical Review, October 1972, pp. 1035-73. 
AACM, tomo 3689, exp. 43. "Barrios," p. 1. Marroqui, tomo 3, 
p. 544. 

AACM, toraos 2939-55, 4151-56. Mexico City, Archive 
de las Notarias (hereinafter cited as AN) , leg. 430. 

AACM, tomo 229,"Actas de 7 septiembre 1829." 

32 

Thornton, p. 51. 

^^ACM, tomo 873, exp. 15. 

3 4 

Calderon de la Barca, pp. 367-69. 

3 5 

Garcia Cubas, pp. 359-65. Waddy Thompson, Recollec- 
tions of Mexico (New York, 1846), p. 102. 

Garcia Cubas, pp. 170-71. 

■ ■ AACM, tomo 3284, exp. 14. 

■3 Q 

AACM, tomo 165,"Actas de 30 noviembre 1844." 

3 9 

"Tentativas revolucionarias , " Universal , 3 diciem- 

bre 184 9. 

4 

Carrera Stampa, pp. 309-10. 'Mexico City, Palacio 
Nacional, Archivo General de la Nacion (hereinafter cited as 
AGN) , leg. 83,"Padrones de establecimientos industriales 
(184 3), Manzana 46." 



62 



4] 

Guillermo Prieto, Memorias de mis tiempos (Mexico, 
"D.F., 1964), p. 34. 

42 

Charles Joseph Latrobe, The Rambler in Mexico (Lon- 
don, 1836), pp. 146-47. 

43 

Documentos oficiales relatives a la construccion 

y demolicion del Parian (Mexico, D.F., 1843). 

4 4 

Carrera Stampa, p. 305. 

45 

Garcia Cubas, p. 169. 

. 'aACM, tomo 2279, p. 350. 

47 

Calderon de la Barca, pp. 300-301. Ayuntamiento 

de Mexico, Memoria de 1845 (Mexico, D.F., 1845), p. 204. 

During the Revolution of 1840, President Bustamante occupied 

the Ciudadela while Gomez Farias occupied the Palacio Nacional, 

■ 48 ^ ^ 

Don Jose Ramon Malo, Diario de sucesos notables 
(1832-1864) , ed. P. Mariano Cuevas S. J., 2 tomos (Mexico, 
D.F. , 1948), tomo 1, p. 60. 

AiVCM, tomo 154,"Actas de 15 junio 1833." 

"prieto (1964), pp. 155, 156. 

5 1 

Ayuntamiento de Mexico, p. 78. 

5 2 

Manuel Orozco y Berra, Memoria para el piano de la 

Ciudad de Mexico (Mexico, D.F., 1867), p. 3. 
""'"'prieto (1964), pp. 305-306. 

5 4 

AACM, Actas secretas, Actas de 1828, 1836, 1841. 
55 

Miguel S. Macedo, Mi barrio, segunda mi tad del 

siglo XIX (Mexico, D.F., 1930), p. 15. 

56 

Tylor, pp. 169-70. This and the last observation 

of the paragraph are the conclusions drawn after reading 

thousands of vagrancy and criminal cases. 

5 7 

Ayuntamiento de Mexico, p. 78. 

c o 

Marroqui, tomo 2, p. 318. 

■ 59 . • ' 

Malo, tomo 2, p. 380. 

60 

Carrera Stampa, p. 318. 

6] 

Manuel Flores and Ramon Gamboa, Voto particular 

leido ante el Exmo. Ayuntamiento sobre la destruccidn del 

Parian (Mexico, D.F., 1829), p. 1. ' 

'''See Table A-1. • - 

Directorio J. p. 8. 
64 ■ " 

Carrera Stampa, p. 318. The association of Cande- 

laria de los Patos with the sale of. poultry still survives. 



63 



The symbol for t?ie Candelaria station on the Mexico City 
'subway system is a duck. Rivera Cambas, tomo 2, p. 194. 

"Barrios," p. 1. Ruxton, p. 55. 
66 

Rivera Cambas, tomo 2, pp. 94, 144, 176, 241. 

6 7 

Carrera Stampa, p. 305. 

68 

Rivera Cambas, tomo 2, p. 97. Prieto (1964), p. 

375. 

6 9 

Luis de Bellemar [Gabriel Ferry], Escenas de la 

vida mejicana, trad. Lie. Garcia de Real (Barcelona, n.d.), 

pp. 10-15. 

70 

Garcia Cubas, p. 269. 

Thornton, p. 59. 

72 ^ 

Calderon de la Barca, p. 166. 

"lyloT, p. 247. 

74 

Calderon de la Barca, p. 175. 

Prieto (1964), p. 90. 

- 76 

Calderon de la Barca, pp. 175, 177. Edward Tayloe 

Thornton, a Southern aristocrat, was moved to feelings of 

disgust by the sight of the social inequality he observed on 

the paseos of Mexico City. 

Mariano Galvan Rivera, Guia de forasteros , 1842 
(Mexico, D.F., 1842) . 

78 

Juan Nepucemo Almonte, Guia de forasteros (Mexico, 

D.F., 1852). 

79 

Mariano Galvan Rivera, Quia de forasteros , 1832 

(Mexico, D.F., 1832). AACM, tomo 2020, exp . 43. 

80 

Jan Bazant, Alienation of Church Wealth in Mexico, 
trans. Michael P. Costeloe (Cambridge, 1971), pp. 90, 91. 

81 

AACM, tomo 4160, exp. 60. 
82 

Joel Robert Poinsett, Notas sobre Mexico, trad. 

Pablo Martinez del Campo (M:exico , D.F., 1950), pp. 155-58. 
83. 

Jan Bazant, La industrla textil en el siglo diez 

y nueve," en Coleccion de documentos para la historia de 
comercio exterior del Mexico. El comercio exterior y el 
artesano mexicano (Mexico, D.F., 1965), p. 33. 

AACM, tomo 3409,"Padron de 1849." 

8 5 

Thornton, p. 59. Poinsett, p. 158. 

'aACM, tomo 4152, exps. 73, 79. 

87 ^ 

Agustm Cue Canovas, Historia social y econdmica 

de Mexico, 1521-1824 (Mexico, D.F., 1963), p. 281. Secre- 



64 



taria de Estado y Despacho de Relaciones Interiores y Ex- 
•teriores, Meworia de 1844 (Mexico, D.F.., 1847). 

^\aCM, tomo 2279, p. 238. 

8 9 

See Table B-3 . 

^"aACM, tomo 2889. See Table B-5. 

'^Vgn, legs. 83, 84. 

9 2 ■ ^ 

Mariano Otero, Obras , 2 tomos (Mexico, D.F., 1967), 

tomo 1, pp. 25-29. 

^"'aACM, tomo 3274, exp . 95. 

■'"'lylor, p. 114. AACM, tomo 2279, Bando de 6 sep- 

tiemljre 1843. Bazant, Alienation, pp. 90, 91. 

95 

Diario Oficial, 11 agosto 1844. 

9 6 

"El robo," Semanario Artistico , 11 junio 1844, p. 1. 

97 

Cue Canovas, pp. 285-96. 

98 ,, ^ ^ 

Marcelo Bltar Letayf, La vida economica de Mexico 

de 1824 a 1867 y sus proyecciones" (tesis, l,icenciado en eco- 

nomia, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, 1964), pp. 

237-38. 

9 9 

Cue Canovas, p. 289. 

"Peticion," Semanario Artistico , 24 febrero 1844. 

101 

Cue Canovas, p. 39, 

102 ^ ^ ^ 

Manuel Dublan and Jose Maria Lozano, Legislacion 

mexicana . . . , 34 tomos (Mexico, D.F., 1892), tomo 2, ley 

898. 

10 3^^ 

Jose Maria Bocanegra, Memorias para la historia de 

Mexico independiente , 2 tomos (Mexico, D.F., 1892), tomo 2, 

p. 124. 

10 4 ^ ■ 

Diario Oficial, 24 agosto 1844. Dublan and Lozano, 

tomo 5, leyes 3157, 3232. 

105 ^ 

Dublan and Lozano, tomo 3, leyes 2040, 1828. 

1 06 

Otero, tomo 2, p. 808. 

Garcia Cubas, p. 236. 

10 8^ 

Salado Alvarez, p. 264. 
'Peticion." 

'^°i\ACM, tomo 3284, exps. 10, 14 . 

Ill 

Carlos Maria Bustamante, Apuntes para la historia 

del yobierno de general Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, 1841-1844 

(Mexico, D.F. , 1845) , p. 9. 



65 



1 1 2 

AACM, tomo 3284, exps. 10, 14. 
] 1 3 

Diario Oficial, 23 agosto 1844, p. 1. 

1 1 4 

AACM, tomo 3284, exps. 10, 12. 
115 

AACM, tomo 3284, exps. 10, 14. 

AACM, tomo 3284, exp . 14. 
117 ^ 

Dublan and Lozano, tomo 4, ley 2292. 

1 1 8 

Bustaraante, p. 25. 

1 1 9 

AACM, tomo 3453, exp. 94. 

12 0^ 

Luis Chavez Orozco, Documentos para la historia 
economica de Mexico, tomo 1, La industria de hilados y teji- 
dos en M6xico (1829-1842) (Mexico, D.F., 1934-1936). Henry 
George Ward, Mexico in 1827, 2 vols. (London, 1828), vol. 1, 
p. 79. Daniel Cosio Villegas, La cuestion arancelaria en 
Mexico, tomo 3, Historia de la polltica aduanal (Mexico D.F 
1932), pp. 156, 157. 

121^ 

Chavez Orozco, p. 127. Cosio Villegas, pp. 156, 
157. 

12 2 

Exposicidn dirigida al congreso.de la nacidn por 
los fabricantes y cultivadores de algodSn (Mexico, D.F., 1841) 
p. 1. 

1 23 

Ayuntamiento de Mexico, Representacidn de Ayunta- 
miento de esta Capital en defensa de la industria agrlcola y 
fahril de la RepOblica (Mexico, D.F., 1841), p. 1. 
1 24 

Ibid., p. 24. 

1 25 

Diario Oficial, 21 agosto 1844, p. 1; 23 agosto 
1844, p. 1. 

126 

Jose Maria Lafragua, Miscelanea de polltica (Mexi- 
co, D.F., 1943), pp. 716-48. 

1 27 

Semanario Artistico, 1843, and Siglo Diez u Nueve , 
1842. 

1 2 8 

Representacion dirigido al Congreso de la Union 
por 6,124 artesanos pidiendo proteccion para el trabajo de 
los nacionales (Mexico, D.P., 1851). 

129 

Ayuntamiento ■ de Mexico, Dictamenes de los ciuda- 
danos ^sindicos acerca de si los estrangeros paeden tener car- 
nicerias, panaderias , y otras comercios de esta clase (Mexi- 
co, D.F. , 16 agosto 1830) . 

130 

Diario Oficial, enero-diciembre 1844. 
131 

Latrobe, p. 111. 

132 

AACM, tomo 863, exp. 38. 



66 



■ ^ AACM, tomo 4779, exp . 353. 

1 3 4 

AACM, tomo 4154, exp. 139. Hernandez's refer- 
ence to a "decent exterior" is intriguing. Perhaps he is 
referring to a mestizo rather than a European appearance. 

135 

Ayuntamiento de Mexico, Dictamenes . 

' AACM, tomo 5 22, exp. 8. 

13 7 ■ 

See Table D-1. 

■^ " ^^"Poblacion," pp. 48-50. 

13') 

See Table E-1. 

14 0,, 

Editorial, Siglo Diez y Nueve , 12 noviembre 
1841, p. 3. 

141 

Moneda de Cobre, 12 noviembre 1841, p. 3. 

142 

Real Academia Espanola, Diccionario de la lengua 

espahola (Madrid, 1970) . 

] 43 , 

Lyle N. McAlister, Social Structure and Social 

Change in New Spain," Hispanic American Historical Review, 

August, 1963, p. 352. 

144 

Manuel Carrera Stampa, Los gremios mexicanos (Mexi- 
co, D.F., 1954) . 

See Table E-2. 

146 
. ' , See Table E-3. 

AACM, tomo 3689, exp. 43. 

^"^S'ylor, p. 251. 

149 

Ward, tomo 1, p. 22.- 

150^. 

Poinsett, p. 95. 

15 1 

Francisco Lopez Camara, La estructura economica y 

social de Mexico en la epoca de la Reforma (Mexico, D.F., 
1967), p. 227. 

1 5 2 

Carrera Stampa, Los gremios. 

'AACM, tomo 383, exps. 18-21. 

'15 4 

AACM, tomo 4779, exp. 354. 

15 5 

Antonio Garcia Cubas, El libro de mis recuerdos 

(Mexico, D.F., 1904), p. 241. 

156,, ^ ^ ,, 

Populaclio de Mexico, Museo Mexicano , tomo 3 

(1844), p. 450. 

A.\CM, tomo 3689, exp. 43. 

■ 15 8 

Gabriel Ferry, Vagabond Life in Mexico (New York, 

1856), p. 40. 



67 



15 9 ■ ■ " 

Bellemar, p. 8. 

■ ^^"Prieto (1964), pp. 206-209. 

Mayer, p. 4i. 

^"^"See Tables F-1 and F-2 . 

^"■^See Tables F-3 and F-4. 

Niceto Zamacois, Historia da Mejico, 13 toraos 
(Mejico, D.F., 1879), tomo 11, p. 287. 

'^'^AACM, tomo 392, exp . 58. 

Robert A. Wilson, Mexico, Its Peasants and Its 
Priests (New York, 1856), p. 281. 

^^'^Garcia Cubas (1904), p. 238. 

'^'^"Populacho," p. 450. 

'^^See Tables G-1, G-2, and G-3. 

17 

Rivera Cambas, tomo 2, p. 146. 

^'"'■Prieto (1948), pp. 202-203. 

^^^See Table H-1. 

^^^^See Tables H-2 and H-3. 

17 4 

Thompson, p. 188. 

17 5 ^ . 

Lucas Alaman, Historia de Mexico, 5 tomos (Mexico, 

D.F. , 1942) , tomo 1, p. 33. , . 

^^''McAlister,, p. 358. 

17 7 

Alaman, tomo 1, p. 33. 

1 7 R 

Ward, tomo 1, pp. 27-28; tomo 2, p. 38. Alexandra 
Moreno Toscano, "Cambios en los patrones de urbanizacion en 
Mexico," Sobretiro de Historia Mexicana, tomo 22, no. 2, pp. 
164-74. 

^'''^"El robo," p. 1. 

ion 

Lopez Camara, p. 277. Torcuato di Telia, "The 
Dangerous Classes in Early Nineteenth-Century Mexico," Jour- 
nal of Latin American Studies, May 1973, p. 95. 

1 R 1 

"AACM, tomo 4158, exp. 334. 

Secretaria de Estado y Despacho de Relacxones In- 
teriores y Exteriores, p. 13. 

Jeffry Kaplow,, The Names of Kings (New York, 1972), 
p. 30. 

'^''Tylor, pp. 60-61. 

^AACM, tomo 383, exp. 18. 



AACM, tomo 4151, exp . 30. 
AACM, tomo 4157, exp. 302. 

-1 Q g 

AACM, tomo 4154, exp. 161. " ' 

AACM, tomo 4151, exp. 159. 

AACM, tomo 8 72, exp. 17. 

191 

Pueblo bajo, Eco de Comercio , 14 marzo 1848, p. 1. 

Di Telia, p. 1. 

1 92 

Mariano Otero, Ensayo sobre el verdadero estado de 

la cuestion social y politica (Guadalajara, 1952), p. 51. 

''ajVCM, tomo 3831, exp. 18. 

194 ^ , , 

Jose Fernandez de Llzardi, El periguillo sarniento , 

2 tomos (Mexico, D.F., 1949), tomo 1, pp. 71-76. 

19 5 

Otero, Ensayo, p. 110. 

^'^'^ Wilson, pp. 281-86. 

1 9 7 

"Nuestros artesanos," Siglo Diez y Nueve , 3 diciem-- 

bre 1848, p. 3. 

1 9 8 

Lafragua, p. 57. 

19 9^^ 

Jose M.aria Luis Mora, Mexico y sus revoluciones , 

3 tomos (Mexico, D.F., 1950), tomo 1, p. 284. 

^""aACM, tomo 3689, exp. 43. 
. ""'"Populacho," p. 450. , 



CliAPTER TWO 
LABOR AND WAGES 



For a long time I have not worked at my 

craft of blanket weaving because I can 

earn more by selling matches in the 

s treets . 

— Mariano Tirado , 1845 



Labor 



Mexico City's poor labored under unique circumstances 
created by severe economic depression, the demise of the 
colonial guild system, and the birth of modern industrial 
organization. This chapter will examine their "modes" of 
labor, working conditions, and wages. y\rtisans, masters, 
journeymen, and apprentices constituted 38 percent of the sam- 
ple population and over 65 percent of the lower occupational 

1 
categories. Seventy percent of them were shoemakers, tailors, 

9 

carpenters, masons, bakers, weavers, painters, and printers. 
They were not the most prosperous craftsmen. Table 11 ranks 
tlie mean rent listed on the census of 1849. Only the rents of 
the tailors and carpenters were among the ten highest. The 



69 



70 



rents of shoemakers, weavers, and masons ranked seventeen, 
nineteen, and twenty-four respectively. Shoemaking was the 
most common occupation within a largely barefoot population. 

The completion of an apprenticeship was the prerequi- 
site to becoming a journeyman, the highest position to which 
a poor boy could aspire. Severing the youth from home ties 
for a prolonged period of time, apprenticeship was a dramatic 
rite of passage to adulthood. It also created lifelong 
friendships. "I have known him since we were apprentices 
together" was the usual way that artisans expressed a deep 

and favorable knowledge of an individual's character before 

3 
the city's magistrates.' An apprentice who served his master 

well could expect references and family connections when 

seeking his first post or, more rarely, a loan to start his 

own business. 

Apprenticeship began at any age. Wealthier artisans 

gave their children a prolonged formal education, apprentic- 

4 
ing them between the ages of fifteen and seventeen. Poorer 

families, unable to feed or cloth their children or seeking 

to atigment their incomes, apprenticed them at quite early 

ages. Records of the Tribunal de Vagos show apprenticeship 

6 
starting at the age of eight. Older men entered into appren- 

7 
ticeship whenever their original crafts became depressed. 

An apprenticeship was a legal contract, verbal or 

written, stipulating the craft to be taught, the conditions 

Q 

under which it was to be taught, duration, and fee. A good 



71 



apprenticeship, one contracted with a prosperous artisan of 

recognized skill, involved the payment of a large fee and was 

9 
written. Apprenticeships to craftsmen of recognized skill 

were not limited exclusively to the children of the pros- 
perous. Some wealthy craftsmen, acting out of charitable 
impulses, took on poor boys without fees, providing that the 
parents continued to shelter, feed, and clothe them. 

Poorer families made verbal contracts. These were 
no less binding than those written if acknowledged by both 
parties during litigation. A few examples of the verbal 
agreements sworn before the Tribunal de Vagos when it appren- 
ticed delinquent youths are vague and indicate the conditions 
under which a poor boy entered apprenticeship. 



He took formal delivery of the accused, 
Jose Romauldo, to teach him a craft and 
care for his conduct, and bring him use- 
fully into society."^ ^ 

He contracted to receive the expressed 
Estanislao under the obligation to teach 
him the craft of carpentry and instruct 
him in the principles of good morals and 
Christian education, that correspond to 
his condition.' -^ 

He receives under his responsibility and 
with the qualification that he shall work 
by his side and fulfill all the duties of 
a respectable man [hoinbre de bien] to 
Jose Lerroa who he will have in his house 
and at his side, trying to direct him in 
the bosom of honor. 



Not all verbal contracts were vague. One case in the pre 



72 



ceedings of the Tribunal specified a fee and stipulated that 

14 
the boy be taught to read and write. 

The examples illustrate the paternal nature of the 
master's relationship vjith his apprentice. Once the oath 
was sworn, the master became legally responsible for the 
conduct of ■ the boy. Most apprentices lived in their master's 
workshop or house. A significant minority of poor appren- 
tices resided with their parents. The minimal wages earned 

] 5 
by an apprentice went to his parents. After the contract 

was made it could be broken by either party for any infrac- 
tion. The most common were incompetence, misbehavior, or 

laziness on the part of the apprentice and mistreatment or 

1 6 
neglect on the part of the master. 

In the colonial period, guild regulations specified 
long apprenticeship. After 1821 the parties concerned mu- 
tually agreed to the duration of training. The time it took 

to learn any trade was a matter of common knowledge and 

1 7 
Stipulated by the contract. If the apprentice demonstrated 

aptitude, he was promoted to "half-journeyman," which involved 

more responsibility and more pay. The era's progressives 

viewed the elimination of guild regulations that could keep 

a mature man an apprentice for as many as seven years as an 

J 9 

escape from an artificially prolonged infanc}^. Boys appren- 
ticed at the age of eight might remain apprentices for seven 

2 
or eight years. All men with traceable labor histories 

who appeared before the Tribunal were journeymen before the 

age of twenty. 



73 



The image of republican apprenticeship projected by 
Manuel Payno in his Los handitos de Rio Frio is one of mai- 
nour Lshment , maltreatment, and malpayment. The stereotype is 

repeated by Manuel Carrara Stampa in Los gremios mexicanos , 

2 1 
but is not justified. Glaring physical abuse is not cited 

in the records of the Tribunal de Vagos or criminal courts 

where examples of such treatment might be expected. Masters 

beat and even clubbed recalcitrant apprentices, but this was 

not worse punishment than irate fathers meted out to dis- 

2 2 
obedient sons . 

Apprentices suffered other forms of abuse. The con- 
tract of Encarnacion Carranza specified a daily wage of one 
real and a flat rate of five reals weekly for any overtime. 
After a month of overtime work, Carranza 's master refused to 
pay the additional wages. Hoping to rid himself of the com- 
plaining apprentice, he falsely accused the boy of disobedi- 
ence and turned him over to the Tribunal. After a full hear- 
ing, the Tribunal adjudged the master guilty of perjury, or- 
dered him to pay all back wages, and jailed him. Although 
this is the only recorded case of nonpayment, the skepticism 
with which the Tribunal greeted the master's accusations 

23 

suggests that the abuse was common. 

Poor apprentices suffered from neglect. The very 
poor, unwilling or unable to feed and dress an adolescent, 
apprenticed the child to an inept "master of the streets" 
for a worthless three or four years during which the boy 



74 



2 4 
learned little. More substantial masters might also be 

incompetent teachers. A contributor to the Semanario Artis- 
tico complained that the abolition of examinations for the 
masterships, a result of the disestablishment of the gremios , 
had created a class of masters who possessed sufficient 
capital to start a business but insufficient knowledge of 
their crafts. They "were not embarrassed" to take on paying 
apprentices who learned only the ineptitude of their masters 
and the bad habits of loosely disciplined journeymen." 

The abandonment of apprentices was common. When 
business was slow, frequent in the capital, masters left young 
apprentices to shift for themselves until the return of better 
times. It was difficult to find new masters. Quinino Esco- 
bar, a thirteen-year-old carpenter, spent four months seeking 
one after he was abandoned in January 1851. He was reduced 
to selling candy and filching parcels from the market place. 
The abandoned apprentice was further disadvantaged if his 
parents had left tov^/n or no longer recognized legal respon- 
sibility for him. One fifteen-year-old mason, laid off work 
in 1835, discovered that his father had moved to Zinacantepec 
during his apprenticeship. By day the boy supported himself 
assisting arrieros-. By night he slept in the doorways of 
houses. An orphaned thirteen-year-old purse maker normally 
worked and slept in his uncle's shop. " Wienever business was 
slow the uncle turned the boy out into the streets. Homeless, 
he joined a teen-age street gang that spent its time annoying 
the residents of the barrio of Santa Maria la Redonda.^^ 



75 



, Republican apprenticeship sometimes occurred with 
little concern for the wishes or talents of the youths. 
Many delinquent apprentices brought before the Tribunal de 
Vagos were searching restlessly for a vocation compatible 

2 7 

with their interests. Jose Lucas Granada's case shows 
the familiar adolescent rebellion against parental authority, 
combined with a search for a suitable vocation. Mis father 
attempted to teach him the family trade of sweet making but 
the boy balked. The father then apprenticed his son as a" 
carpenter. Disliking carpentry, the boy ran off and became 
a shoemaker's apprentice. Tiring of the cobblers' trade, 
the boy returned to his angry parents who denounced him to 
the authorities. 

If a boy found himself suited to the trade to which 
he was apprenticed, youthful mischief frequently landed him in 

trouble. The employer of twelve-year-old Remagio Jimenez 

7 8 
complained that the child always wanted to play. Rafael 



Gutierrez, a fifteen-year-old tailor's apprentice, left work 

2 9 
without permission to visit a hat shop with his friend. 

Good-natured or negligent masters tolerated these impromptu 
holidays. The mother of a fifteen-year-old leather worker 
turned her son in to the Tribunal de Vagos for missing two 
weeks of xTOrk. The boy's master, however, excused him, 
saying that the boy was a good worker and that lengthy, un- 
announced absences were not unusual among apprentices. The 
Tribunal considered the master a poor disciplinarian and re- 

3 

apprenticed the boy. 



76 



Republican apprenticeship was a poor system of voca- 
tional training. The few apprenticeships listed on the enu- 
meration of carpentry shops and on the industrial census of 
1849 lead to the suspicion that this solitary system of vo- 
cational education had very few openings. Mexican technology 
was notoriously backwards, a fact readily conceded by its 
most sympathetic defenders." A poor lad apprenticed to an 
average master learned to produce mediocre goods that 
wealthy Mexicans shunned. Poor boys apprenticed at the 
age of seven, eight, and nine were illiterate, ignorant of 
simple arithmetic, and unprepared to absorb available 
technical information. The ayuntawiento worked to establish 

a free primary education for poor children in literacy, 

3 2 
arithmetic, and industrial drawing. 

Having completed his apprenticeship, the youth be- 
came a journeyman and went in search of employment. Journey- 
men ^jho found full-time employment in the capital's small 
workshops were fortunate. Based upon Siglo Diez y Nueve' s 
estimate of 40,000 male wage earners for the city, the per- 
centages of the sample survey indicate that 28,000 were arti- 

3 3 
sans. If the average workshop employed five officials, the 

estimate of the economic historian Francisco Lopez Camara, 

only 10,000 could be employed in the capital's 2,000 work- 

,34 
Shops. The workshops listed on the industrial census of 

1849 employed an average of three artisans. This suggests 

that only 6,000 artisans found employment at the workshops.' 



77 



This number is almost identical to that of the artisans who 
signed a mass petition in 1851 requesting the suppression of 

3 5 

contraband."" Although the above estimates are admittedly . 
crude, the conclusion is inescapable that the public work- 
shops employed significantly less than half of the city's 

3 6 
artisans . . 

Most journeymen set up their own small workshops, be- 
came rinconeras , or took in work provided by merchants or the 
public workshops. Those \<iho set up shop were often highly 
skilled craftsmen who developed an appreciative clientele. 
Brantz Mayer, a North American diplomat, visited the workshop 
of a wax sculptor whose work was admired throughout the city. 
He watched in amazement as the sculptor, squatting over a 

portable furnace in his cramped, one-room workshop, fashioned 

37 
an exquisite statue from soft wax. Other artisans possessed 

excellent neighborhood reputations. Vicente Soria, a seventy- 
year-old carpenter, furnished the homes of his neighbors with 
"curious and delicate" works. These independents maintained 
a haphazard, easy-going system of production that attracted 
the attention of Robert Wilson. They did not work for orders. 
Members of their families hawked their products on the streets 

as soon as they were produced. If sales were brisk, the 

3 9 
family took a week-long fiesta. Although Wilson thought 

the irregularity peculiarly Mexican, it was common to inde- 

40 
pendent artisans throughout the Western world. 



The lowest class of independent journeyman was the 
wretched rinconera who squatted outside the ceisas de vecin- 
dad , trying to gain the patronage of minor civil servants 

A 1 

and store clerks. Guillermo Prieto, the nineteenth-century 
politician and essayist, wrote earthy descri.ptions of them. 
Walking through the streets of the city, one could observe 



some shoemaker, shirtless, a large rosary 
crossing under his chest, a thick thatch 
of hair hanging across his forehead, his 
tripod stool, his filthy workbench covered 
by his tools or the trash of his crude 
work, his pleading dog, and his jar of 
pulque by his side. . . . [or] the weaver 
of straw chairs, sitting on the ground 
with a chisel, supported by the big toe 
of , his foot, forming those chairs whose 
grandeur we had admired in the "Cafe of 
the South. "'^- 



Most journeymen labored in their homes. Large work- 
shops provided some with materials to be fashioned into a 
finished product and returned by a specified date. Retail 
merchants placed orders with other journeymen, lent money 

for the purchase of materials, and purchased the finished 

43 
product. The interest charged and profits earned in the 

latter transaction are not known. The commercial interest 

rate varied from 12 to 24 percent per month. 

Pilferage of materials must have been common. The 

phrase "he can be trusted with his materials" was a common 

form of character reference. Mexican artisans were notorious 



79 



44 
for failing to deliver goods on time. The requirement 

that a verbal contract be acknowledged b^' both parties to 

have legal validity favored the tardy journeyman. I found 

no breach-of-contract case among thousands of criminal cases. 

Many artisans worked at two or more systems of pro- 

'duction. Pablo Martinez, a tailor, took in work from a 

4 5 
master and made clothes for his own customers. A shoe- 
maker took in materials provided by one public workshop and 

4 6 
worked in another. The variations were common and neces- 
sary for survival in the permanently depressed economy. 

Marxist historians have exaggerated the role of the 
public workshop in Mexico's labor history by applying their 
theory superficially to extremely sparse data. A typical 
Marxist treatment is tliat of Roberto de la Cerda Silva, 
author of El movimiento obrero en Mexico. According to de 
la Cerda Silva, the artisans were victims of an embryonic 
capitalist system that developed slowly after the abolition 
of the gremios . Deprived of the gremios^ protection, govern- 
ment fiat forced people to enter factories in which they 

performed exhausting and dangerous labor for starvation 

47 
wages. Other Marxists write of the legalization of usury, 

the proliferation of indebted labor, and the increase of 
the notorious obrajes (large textile worksliops) . To illus- 
trate their case, they are fond of describing the obraje in 
Queretaro that Alexander von Humboldt visited in 1792. In 
this "dark prison" whose double doors were constantly locked, 



80 



mestizos, Indians, and criminals worked with unsafe machinery 

and in unsanitary surroundings. Floggings were frequent, and 

4 9 
married men saw their families only on Sundays. 

The Marxists overideali zed the colonial guild system. 
Manuel Carrera Stampa's opinion of the late-coloni.al gremio 
cannot be overstated. Far from being an institution devoted 
to the benefit of all artisans, the late-colonial gremio 
stifled economic and personal freedom to enforce an ineffi- 
cient and unpopular monopoly. Apprenticeships were expensive 
and discouragingly long. High fees and irrelevant, demanding 
examinations thwarted journeymen who wished to become masters. 
The more desperate overcame these obstacles by running away 
and establishing their own shops or working for wealthy non- 
gui.ld masters of large illegal workshops. Regatoneras 
(renegade journeymen) were common in the shoemaking, black- 
smithing, carriage making, glove making, hat making, leather 
working, and painting crafts. They sold at lower prices 
and operated at more convenient hours than did the guildsmen. 
Their competition particularly hurt the master shoemakers who 
complained that it forced them to reduce prices "without re- 
gard for the time and money that they had spent to pass their 
,5 2 

To combat illegal competition, the guildsmen resorted 
to two expedients. Special courts sentenced arrested regato- 
neras to labor in public workshops. Dress regulati.ons com- 
pelled the captive journeymen to borrow money from their 



81 



masters for the purchase of clothing. The master then ex- 
tracted repayment from wages, theoretically leaving the 
journeyman enough money to support himself and his family. 
Justified as a measure to end .the "indecent and shameless 
nudity" of the poor artisans, the actual purpose was to in- 
debt the worker to his master. • ■ 

The efforts of the guild to restrict competition 
failed long before the independence period. Artisans forced 
to borrow money ran away to prosperous Puebla where work was 
readily obtained on the street corners or from masters who 
asked no questions concerning the newcomer's past. Those 
who remained in the workshops drove their masters bankrupt 

by stealing tools and materials or by the production of 

53 
shoddy goods. Consumer opinion supported the renegades. 

Guild shoemakers protested that the poor preferred the cheap 

shoes of the regatoneras to their allegedly more durable but 

more expensive product. In other crafts illegal industry 

also produced a clearly superior product. Compared to the 

coaches manufactured and operated illegally, the guild 

5 4 
coaches looked as "old and shabby" as their mules. Be- 
cause of their product's popularity, independents produced 
and operated most of the city's coaches. 

Government policy, influenced by physiocratic phil- 
osophy that shunned monopolies, tacitly sided with the regato- 
neras. Many independents obtained immunity from gremio pro- 
secution by enrolling in the city militia and claiming fuero 



militar (military privilege) that exempted them from civil 
jurisdiction. ' Guildsmen whispered that the influence of 
the owners of the large, heavily capitalized carriage-making 
shops reached to the Viceroy's palace. The civil courts 
made a shambles of the intent of the clothing codes by 
granting journeymen indebted to their masters legal permis- 
sion to change jobs.' The unwillingness of the government 
to cooperate with the gremios demonstrates that decades be- 
fore independence it viewed the gremios as archaic, antiso- 
cial embarrassments. 

The Marxists distort the republican industrial sys- 
tem. Only a few of Mexico City's larger industries were 
capitalistic, organized and operated in a manner approaching 
the rationality of modern industry. Work at the most modern 
textile mills x^;as probably organized like that of the Durango 
mill which employed 200 operatives in 1844. The factory ran 
two, twelve-hour shifts, one beginning at 6:00 a.m. and the 
other at 12:00 p.m. The workers took lunch breaks at 9:00 

5 7 

a.m. and 2:00 p.m. according to their shifts. The organi- 
zation of work in the large bakeries was also highly ra- 
tionalized. A minimum of twelve men worked in shifts of 
six around the clock to provide the city with fresh bread. 
Most bakery workers listed on the census of 1849 referred 

to tliemselves as "operatives" rather than journeymen; they 

5 9 
considered themselves to be hired hands rather than artisans. 



83 



Other large establishments lacked the modern organi- 
zation of the textile mills and bakeries. Each worker at 
the Estanco received tobacco and paper sufficient to pro- 
duce sixty-five to seventy-five packets of cigarettes. They 
then returned to their benches and individually produced 
their quota. In the larger shoemaking, tailoring, and 
weaving establishments, masters assigned journeymen indi- 
vidual projects, distributed materials, and specified the 
completion date. Like the workers of the Estanco, the 
journeymen labored independently of each other at their 
assigned task. If the product was not the result of a 
specific order, the artisan himself or another employee 
hawked it in the streets immediately upon completion. 

Production in most workshops was geared to small 
orders from individuals. To handle significantly in- 
creased production, masters assigned materials to journey- 
men working in their homes. A decrease in demand produced 
immediate layoffs. The small size of the orders and the 
inconstancy of the flow made employment in the public 
workshop an insecure, day-to-day affair for even the most 
skilled and reliable worker. The socialist editor of Hi jo 
de Trabajo, although writing in a later period, described a 
scene common to early republican decades. 



We cannot properly define the sentiment 
that overpowers us when we see the mul- 
titude of workers standing in front of 



84 



the workshop hours and entire days, 
suffering from the inclement weather, 
hoping that the master will come out 
and distribute work, or fearing that 
without any consideration, without 
giving explanations, he will lay tliem 
off, leaving in the most horrible 
misery those who were regularly and 
for some time producing profits."'"' 



Forced labor through imprisonment or indebtedness 
existed on a very limited scale. Bakeries, and not the 
obraje, were the most notorious exploiters of forced labor. 
Heat, dust, and long hours made baking an undesirable craft. 
From the late colonial ^leriod on, convicts were sentenced 
to perform forced labor in the bakeries. The Republic's 
Tribunal de Vagos continued the practice on a relatively 
minor scale, and occasionally Lesser officials abused 

authority by arbitrarily imprisoning ne'er-do-wells in 

6 4 
local bakeries. The treatment of the bakeries' opera- 
tives, wliether freely hired or condemned convicts, could be 
brutal. The case of Loreto Flores's sixteen-^year-old son 
illustrates the abuses that occurred. The boy customarily 
worked extremely long hours and collapsed exhausted until 
driven back to work by the blows of his foremen. The ba- 
kery's administrator accused him falsely of stealing bread 
and deducted its cost from his daily wages. Tiring of the 
mistreatment, Flores decided to quit. The administrator, 
however, accused him of helping another lad to escape, 
held him responsi.ble for the escapee's debts, and imprisoned 



85 



him within the bakery. Incarcerated, Flores received more 

and lieavier beatings. His mother's appeal to the courts 

65 
obtained his release and an $8 fine for his tormentor. 

The Flores incident was not an isolated case. In 
1849 the Ministry of Justice and Ecclesiastical Affairs re- 
ceived complaints of the brutalities occurring in the city's 
bakeries. Following a report made in the colonial period, 
it recommended the abolition of convict labor, shorter 

hours, and the payment of extremely high wages to make the 

66 
industry attractive to free ]abor. 

The dungeon-like obrajes of colonial Queretaro did 
not exist in Mexico City. In 1827 the city was astir with 
the pathetic tale of young Cosmo Damian who at the age of 
five was sold by his alcoholic father into an obraje in 
the nearby village of San Angel. For five years Cosmo and 
his work mates labored without rest, receiving beatings for 
inspiration and bread crusts for nourishment. Their over- 
seers sequestered their meager wages as compensation for 
spurious thefts. Their only holiday was on the Fiesta of 
San Antonio when they climbed to the balcony of the obraje 
to watch the festivities. Even this small pleasure cost 
them dearly, for the owners deducted the obmje^s share of 
the fiesta's costs from their wages, or more accurately, 
added it to their debts. Eventually a, village alcalde dis- 
covered the obraje and .liberated its grateful inmates. 



86 



The tale of Cosmo Damian was published in a pamphlet 
and circulated widely among the artisans of Mexico City. 
The sensation created by the tale illustrates that forced 
labor of this type was illegal and extremely rare in the 
vicinity of the capital. The obrajes of Mexico City, judging 
from the few documents, were large textile shops utilizing . 
very antiquated systems of production. The obrajeros them- 
selves often sold their wares immediately after completion, 

6 8 
a practice that provided the opportunity to cheat employers. 

In some obrajes workers lived on the premises and received 

meals or a daily cash allowance. In the obraje on Manzana 

127, four weavers and three operatives lived with their 

69 
families. ^ 

Freedom of movement was the rule. The criminal 

records indicate that obrajeros living on the premises came 

70 . 
and went as they pleased. Weaving, as the mean rents in- 
dicate, was not a very prosperous craft. Those residing in 
the obraje free from the burden of rent may have considered 
themselves fortunate. Residence within an obraje, however, 
was not the rule. Many individuals describing themselves 
as obrajeros were listed as the tenants of single rooms on 
the census of 1849. 

Indebted labor existed, but not as a form of capital- 
ist or precapitalist slavery. Legal judgments that indebted 
journeymen to masters were made against proven cases of 
theft. There is no indication that the courts or employers 



87 



intimidated workers into admitting' guilt. The size of the 
debts were small, varying between five and one-half reals 
and seventeen pesos. The latter debt was for an outrageous 
theft of thirty-six rebozos. The legal judgment stipulated 
the amount of the debt and the manner in which it was to be 
paid. In each case the worker had the option of paying off 

the debt in cash or accepting wage deductions. Usually the 

71 
worker voluntarily consented to the wage-deduction scheme. 

A debt of $17 would appear insurmountable to a man earning 

a $12 monthly income that barely provided him with the 

necessities of life. The law, however, did not obligate 

the indebted worker to the service of his master. Republican 

judges followed late-colonial legislation that permitted the 

freedom of movenieiit of an indebted worker provided that he 

72 

paid his debt or had it guaranteed by his new master. 

The decrepit state of the municipal police system guaranteed 

de facto freedom of movement. 

Forced debt as a method of obtaining and retaining 
labor was dysfunctioniil in Mexico City. Logic indicates 
that the employer surveying the line of unemployed at the 
door of his workshop would hardly desire or need the labor 
of the inept or the dishonest. A policy of forced loans 
similar to that of the colonial period does not ring well 
in a community whose merchants and masters were continually 

short of capital and who complained that employees were al- 

7 3 
ways pestering them for advances on wages. 



Mexico City was a refuge for rural peons fleeing 
debt servitude. Bernandino Perez, an agricultural ' laborer 
from Monte Alto, fled to Mexico City when interest mush- 
roomed a $7 loan for the purchase of maize into a debt of 
$25. lie found work in an obraje where his creditor soon 
located him. Unwilling to return to Monte Alto, Perez 
borrowed money to repay the debt from his employer and 
agreed to repay the new loan through deductions in his 
weekly wages . 

The courts did not tolerate the physical abuse of 
workers. Two criminal cases indicate that free adult 
workers quickly sought legal redress for physical mistreat- 
ment. The maid of Teodora Vasquez brought her mistress to 
court for beating her and withholding wages. The case was 
never tried because the maid did not appear in court. A 
foreman of a pork butcher shop beat several employees whom 
he had caught in the act of theft. At the trial the 
workers admitted their guilt but complained of their beat- 
ings. The judge ruled the foreman's action understanda.ble, 
but illegal, and fined him $10 admonishing him to treat his 
underlings more humanely. He sentenced the thieves to one 

month's imprisonment, but to compensate for their mistreat- 

75 
ment, he levied no fines. 

The most common form of abuse the Mexican journeyman 

received at the hands of his master was the withholding of 

wages. The Semanario Artistico explained this problem: 



89 



The greater part of the workshop owners 
are not capitalists, and they need to be 
paid punctually for their completed works 
in order to meet operating expenses and 
subsistence. 

Unfortunately, most of the customers 
of public workshops do not pay their bills 
on time, and the delayed payments cause a 
host of evils. The master must waste 
precious time ' collecting and in some cases 
demanding the delinquent accounts. Often 
he is so short of the cash that he planned 
to be available that he is hounded by 
creditors, finds personal subsistence dif- 
ficult, and is unable to pay his own jour- 
neymen . '^ ^^ 



The courts were evenhanded in their judgments of 
delinquent wage cases. In three cases they upheld the 
right of an employer to withhold the costs of admitted 
negligence or theft without a prior legal judgment. That 
these cases appeared before the courts at all is proof that 
the aggrieved employees expected a fair hearing. In the 
single case that involved wages being withheld for no 
justifiable cause, the courts ruled in favor of the employee, 
Jose Maria Morales, an arriero , took clothes from his master 
in lieu of $20 in back pay. Charged with theft, Morales 

was acquitted by the court which ruled that he had justly 

7 7 
compensated himself. 

The masters had a case to state against the republi- 
can journeymen. Their employees were as unreliable as the 
journeymen working in their homes. The Semanario Artistico 
tactfully stated the criticism of the masters: 



90 



The owners of workshops, factories, etc., 
and those that are themselves masters must 
employ subordinate labor who are the jour- 
neymen upon whom they depend. The civil 
and artistic education that this class of 
society receives is such that they do not 
understand their duties or esteem as they 
should the delicacies or formalities of 
their promises. For this reason, most of 
our journeymen will not complete a project 
on time or according to specifications and 
cause their masters to involuntarily fail 
their customers.'''^ 



The editorial alluded to the preindustrial habits of the 
Mexican journeymen who, like European and North American ar- 
tisans, showed a marked aversion to continual and consistent 

labor, habits the early Industrial Revolution demanded of 

7 9 
Its working force. The Mexicans "kept Mondciy" by not 

working. Masters deplored the "ancient and pernicious cus- 
torn" but accepted it as the. general rule. Artisans who 
worked on Mondays drew the praise of their masters. 
During workday they were apt to take frequent and unannounced 
breaks. Public censure by the foreman or the chance appear- 
ance of an old friend were sufficient justification to de- 
sert the workshop for the pleasures of the pulqueria. ~ The 
code of honor that equated capacity to drink with manliness 
and required a worker to match the drinks bought for him by 
his friends often caused an entire workshop to pass an after- 
noon drinking. Many masters, sharing the habits of their 
employees, saw .little harm in allowing their journeymen to 
drink in the shop and even joined in the carousing. 



91 



■ Journeymen frequently took advantage of a master 
who was ignorant of his craft. Realizing the total depen- 
dence of the master upon him, the skilled employee would 
cheat his master or avoid work. The behavior of the ma- 
lingerers gradually corrupted the more honest. Having 
served their apprenticeships under such demoralizing condi- 
tions, young journeymen caused severe disciplinary problems 
when they went to work for masters who knew their crafts. ^'^ 

, ■ Apprentices living by the side of a respected and 
kind master must have considered him as a father. Many un- 
married journeymen continued to live in the master's home 

, , 8 5 
or workshop. Residence at the latter was a mark of trust 

because of the value of the tools stored there and the high 
incidence of pilferage. The overall impression presented 
by the court and vagrancy records was that "pacific and 
moderate" workers might expect friendly and close relations 
with their fellow journeymen and masters. 

The gremio vanished from the pages of republican his- 
tory, but the cofradia, its religious brotherhood, remained 
as a reminder of the past. The cofradia originated in the 
gremio' s obligation to develop the spiritual welfare of its 
members. Each one was dedicated to the performance of a 
specific religious function, usually the veneration of a 
saint. From a secular point of view, its most important 
function was to serve as a benevolent society during sickness 
or death. The Cofradia of the Holy Sacrament and Sodality 



92 



of Santa Cruz provided its members with the following benefits; 



1. A payment of $2 for the administration 
of the sacraments during illnesses. 

2. A payment of $5 at death to provide 
for Mass, funeral, and other burial 
expenses. 

3. A payment of $19,7 [nineteen pesos and 
seven reals] to the heirs of the de- 
ceased . 

4. Each year widows and orphans of de- 
ceased members participated in a lot- 
tery that provided four prizes of $200. ^^'^ 



The first three benefits are typical of those offered by other 
cofradias . It is unknown whether any of the others offered 
the $200 lottery. 

The cofradia.^ s principal function was to provide each 
brother with a decent minimum of religious rites at sickness 
or death. Nineteen pesos represented little more than a month 
and one-half of a poor artisan's income and was insufficient to 

o 7 

save him or his family from destitution. 

Cofradia dues were a moderate one-half real a week or 
two reals a month. Membership was open to women as well as 
men.. The tailor's cofradia mentions only master tailors as 
its beneficiaries. The charters of others and the membership 
lists of all were not available for inspection. It is unlikely 
that most journeymen were members. Those who worked outside 
the guild system would have no connection witli the remnants 
of tlie archaic gremio . Those who were irregularly employed. 



93 



whether in the workshop or outside of it, could not maintain 
payment. The rules permitted a maximum debt of one third of 
the brother's total obligations to the cofradia. If a brother 
owing that sum and having less than ten years seniority should 
die, he received no benefits — a penalty that would discourage 

O Q 

the membership of most poor artisans. 

The minimum importance of the gremio or cofradia to 
the poor artisan does not suggest that the republican artisan 
possessed no sense of group identity. The poorest artisan 
had a fierce sense of pride in his skilled craft. To insult 
a journeyman's skill was, to provoke a fist fight which the 

court, normally severe when dealing with brawling, refused to 

89 
condemn. Those arraigned before the Tribunal de Vagos al- 
ways protested that they were artesanos honrados (honored arti- 

. 9 
sansj . None demonstrated a stronger sense of artisanal iden- 
tity than Amado Diaz, a thirty-five-year-old gilder and appren- 
tice painter who testified that although personal circumstances 

forced him to sell used clothes, he "was an artisan and pro.ud 

c • II 9 1 
of It." 

Significant distinctions of wealth and status existed 
between the journeyman and the master, but artisans shared 
the belief of their Victorian English counterparts "that peo- 
ple engaged in making the same thing were 'the same kind of 

9 2 

people." The owners of the largest public workshops dis- 
played a sense of identity with, and consequently responsi- 
bility for, the poorest of artisans. In 1841 the capital's 



94 



richest artisans, encouraged by the government, established 
the Junta de Fomento de Artesanos. The goals of the Junta 



1. Halting the invasion of foreign manu- 
factures. 

2. Increasing the growth of national pro- 
duction. 

3. Contributing to the creation of schools 
for elementary and vocational education, 

4. Uniting for the defense of the common 
interest . 

5. Raising the moral level of the artisans 
through religion. 

6. Creating charitable institutions to pro- 
tect artisans from want.''-^ 



The Semanario Artistico, the Junta's weekly newspaper and only 
legacy to history, provided an idea of the Junta's activities. 
Didactic essays preached the virtues of thrift and the evils 
of alcoholism. Articles warned against inhaling the dust and 
fumes produced by industrial processes and disseminated the 
latest technical information. The paper printed schemes urging 
the necessity of bank accounts or mutual benefit societies and 
promoted the establishment of night schools to teach writing 
and elementary bookkeeping to apprentices and journeymen. The 
Semanario Artistico attempted to influence public policy by pro- 
posing a boycott of contraband and legal imports and by peti- 

9 4 

tioning the government to stabilize its finances. 



95 



Rosendo Rojas Corias, author of Tratado de coopera- 

tivismo mexicano , considers the Junta de Fomento de Artesanos 

1 r , , - . '^5 

to be a resurgence ot the archaic gremio system. IIis view 

is' unjustified, for the Junta resembled neither the actual 
nor the idealized gremios . The colonial greinios were instru- 
ments for the restriction of production, the perpetuation of 
an obsolete technology, and the li.teral subjugation of the 
journeyman. The Junta attempted to introduce superior tech- 
nology, protect artisans by the promotion of schools and mu- 
tual-benefit societies, and influence public policy to the 
benefit of its members. The idealized gremio used its legal 
status to insure the well-being of its members through the 
regulation of working conditions, productivity, and the pro- 
vision of welfare benefits. The Junta never sought cor- 
porate legal authority, nor did it seek to interfere with 
the free-market mechanism, with the exception of its advocacy 
of tariff protection. Its basic goal was self-help through 
moral reform and education. 

The Junta was similar to other organizations of 
artisans in Europe and North America during the early stages 
of the Industrial Revolution. Cynics might argue that they 
served the needs of embryonic industrialists. A more reason- 
able interpretation would be that in the early stages of the 

Industrial Revolution, masters and journeymen still considered 

96 
their interests to be identica]. . 



96 



The Junta de Fomento de Artesanos dissolved in 1845 
•but artisanal unity persisted. In 1851 artisans, without 
government sponsorship, presented an exhibition to dissemi- 
nate technical information. That same year they petitioned 
the government to establish public workshops in which the 

9 7 r. 

unemployed could work. In 19^51 over 6,400 of the capital's 

artisans petitioned the government to enforce anti-contraband 

9 8 
legislation. 

Unskilled workers accounted for over 25 percent of 

the entire sample population and 36 percent of the two lowest 

occupational categories. Sixty-seven percent of the unskilled 



we 



re servants, street peddlers, street porters, pork butchers, 



9 9 
janitors, and agricultural laborers." Table 12 ranks un- 
skilled occupations by mean rent and reveals that the five 
most common occupations were among the least prosperous. 

Despite a low position in the occupational hierarchy, 
unskilled laborers provided valuable services and color to .' 
urban life. The crowded, rutted streets would not permit the 
passage of large, wheeled vehicles, so heavy loads were 
assigned to cargadores (street porters) who could transport 
cargoes as heavy as 300 pounds with the aid of tumplines . "^ ° ° 
Human beasts of burden made up 9 percent of the unskilled 

10 1 

labor force. They were present on every corner, waiting 

patiently or bargaining with customers intent on three loads 

J- ., . ^ 102 

ror tne price of one. The cargadores were notorious for 



animosity displayed to the wealthy classes. During the rai 



ny 



97 



season when they carried the wealthy across puddles, critics 

accused them of deliberately splashing their clients or 

] 3 
raising the skirts of ladies to indecent heights. 

The aguador (water carrier) enjoyed greater esteem 
than the cargador . Even the Museo Mexicano, a cultural pub- 
lication highly critical of the populacho , described him as 
a man of propriety and honor. His headquarters were the 
fountains of Salto del Agua or Santo Domingo. From 6:00 a.m. 
to 11:00 p.m. he labored, two huge jugs of water suspended 
from his head by a tumpline, his hands holding two large 
ladles, supplying the neighborhoods which lacked fountains. 
An illiterate, he kept track of his accounts by using colored 

beans to signify the amount of water that each customer con- 

,10 4 
sumeti. 

The aguador was a respected and beloved figure in the 
neighborhoods that he served. Children loved him because he 
could be persuaded to give them free drinks during school 
recess. Adults knew him as the purveyor of local gossip, de- 
liverer of love letters, and walking domestic employment 
agency. He was renowned as the enemy of cats, for his clients 
gave him unwanted felines to be disposed of by drotming or 
dunking in the fountains. After eleven o'clock some aguadores 
found employment as street sweepers or in other menial occu- 
pations. Most, however, preferred to pass their spare time 
gambling, drinking, or flirting by the f ountains . ^ ° ^ 



98 



TABLE 11 
ARTISANAL CRAFTS RANKED BY RENT 



Occupation 



Mean 


Rent 


$50 





8 





7 





6 


2 


6 





6 





5 


2 


5 





4 


5 


4 


5 


4 





4 





4 





3 


6 


■ 3 


4 


2 


6 


2 


3 


2 


3 


2 


1 


2 


1 


2 





2 





1 


7 


1 


4 


1 


4 


1 


9 

— 


1 


1 


1 






1. 


Lithographer 


2. 


Lathe turner 


3. 


Goldsmith 


4. 


Printer 


5. 


Silversmith 


6. 


Skilled construction 


7. 


Tanner 


8. 


Tinsmith 


9. 


Tailor 


10. 


Carpenter 


11. 


Embroiderer 


12. 


Watch maker 


13. 


Painter 


14. 


Independent artisan 


15. 


Beef butcher 


16. 


Leather worker 


17. 


Shoemaker 


18. 


Blacksmith 


19. 


Weaver 


20. 


Knitter 


21. 


Hat maker 


22. 


Forging press operator 


23. 


Baker 


24. 


Mason 


25. 


Metal processor 


26. 


Dyer 


27. 


Potter 


28. 


Cabinet maker 



Total cases 388 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author for the random 
sample from the census of 1849, AACM, tomes 3409, 3413. 



99 



TABLE 12 
UNSKILLED OCCUPATIONS RANKED BY RENT 



Occupation 



Mean Rent 



1. Barber 

2. Sexton 

3. Bartender 

4 . Waiter 

5. Pork butcher 

6. Unskilled factory laborer 

7. Mule skinner 

8. Food and beverage processor . 

9 . Coachman 

10. Money lender 

11. Wax chandler 

12. Street peddler 

13. Nonmetallic mineral producer 

14. Agricultural laborer 

15. Cigar maker 

16. Vegetable grower 

17. Servant 

18. Fisherman 

19. Musical entertainer 

20. Drover 

21. Fiber preparer 

22. Street porter 

23. Wagoner 

24. Other producers 

25. Water carrier 

26. Street sweeper 

Total cases 145 



7 





6 





5 





4 





4 





4 





3 


2 


3 


9 


3 


1 


3 





2 


9 


2 


9 

— 


2 


2 


2 


2 


2 





2 





2 





2 





2 





1 


6 


1 


5 


1 


5 


1 


4 


1 


3 


1 


2 


1 






SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author for the random 
sample from the census of 1849, AACM, tomes 3409, 3413. 



100 



TABLE 13 
WOMEN'S OCCUPATIONS, MANZANA 16{ 



Seamstresses 16 

Tobacco workers XO 

Tortilla makers 9 

Embroiderers 3 

Milk vendors • • 3 

Ato.Ie makers ' 4 

Peddlers 4 

Maid ■ I 
■ Errand girl • • ]_ 



Butcher 



X^ 



Tamale maker 1 



SOURCE: AACM, torao 3409. 

Five of the above were married: Three peddlers, one maid, 
and one tortillera. 



TABLE 14 
COMPARISON OF RENT BY OCCUPATION 





$0,0- 


-1,0 


$1,1- 


-2,0 


$2,1- 


-3,0 


$3,1 


-4,0 


$4 


1-t- 




No. 


% 


No. 


% 


No. 


% 


No. 


% 


No. 


% 


Artisan 


49 


12 


155 


37 


97 


22 


36 


9 


87 


21 


Unskilled 


21 


16 


79 


40 


50 


28 


13 


6 


36 


12 


Total 


cases 


623 



















101 



The aguadores possessed an esprit de corps. They 
formed informal gremios headquartered at the fountains from 
which they drew water. The membership passed judgment on 
prospective novitiates. The rejected were harassed from the 
neighborhood; the accepted were given a ritual buffeting 
and dunking, and sent on their first rounds. At the end of 
the day, the initiate treated his brothers to drinks. The 
aguadores marched as nazarenos in the Holy Week processions 
and traditionally pawned their water jugs in order to pur- 
chase the resplendent costumes. At one time aguadores served 
as professional mourners at funerals, but by 1843 the inmates 
of the Hospicio de Pobres had usurped the rights to this em- 

107 

ployment. The gremio was not very cohesive. In 1851 the 
government ordered the capital's aguadores to organize in 
order to clean fountains, fight fires, and provide all areas 
of the city with water. 

The hackney coachman was the nineteenth century's 
cabbie. He was a rakish fellow outfitted in shirt sans tie, 
jacket of white linen, and cassimere trousers encircled at 
the waist by a sash of colored wool. A broad leather shield, 
fastened below his right knee and buttoned to the foot, 
covered his calf. His usual working hours were from 9:00 
a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Like his modern descendent, he knew the 
haunts of the capital's whores. Saturday, his day off, he 
would load his coach full of his lepero friends and race 
through the city with his drunken cargo. While working, he 



102 



engaged any vehicle that he encountered in homicidal races. 
The police perpetua].ly hounded him. 



The coachman gets put in jail for the most 
innocent trespasses. Because he pawned 
his coach's sliding door, because a cap- 
tain or a clerk complained of him without ' 
justification, because he lay back lazily 
on a sidewalk, one audacious foot inter- 
posed between two precious little ones be- 
longing to the sweetheart of a lawyer or 
anybody else: for everything — jail.^°'' 



A cochero's guild is mentioned in the documents. We have 
little knowledge of its activities other than that it pro- 
vided its members with burials in the parish graveyard of 
San Pablo. 

Street merchants comprised 16 percent of the male 
lower-class population. They and the rinconeras jammed the 
flow of traffic causing the ayuntamiento to issue a futile 
ordinance requiring them to remove themselves to the Plazas 
of San Juan de Dios, del Carmen, La Santissima, San Juan de 
Letran, San Pablo, and the Colegio de los Ni.nos.""'^ They 
hawked an endless variety of products. Antonio Garcia Cubas^ 
in his memoirs of life in early nineteenth-century Mexico 
City, recalled twenty-nine different types of vendors, each 
with his own musical cry. ' " A glimpse at those servicing 
the neighborliood of senora Calderon de -la Barca gives an 
idea of their variety and utility. At dawn the ambassador's 
wife awoke to the cries of the coal vendor followed by those 



103 



of peddlers selling lard, salt beef, household wares, fruit, 
and other provisions. In the afternoon, sweets, honey cakes, 
and lottery tickets appeared. At nightfall, sellers of hot 
ducks, cliestnuts, and tortillas entered the streets. Their 

singing cries praising the merits of their wares verged on 

1 13 
p o e t ry . 

Street vending required acrobatic balance and great 

strength. Fruit vendors and bakers carried a day's supply 

of their wares in baskets balanced upon their heads. The 

cabeceros roamed the streets in teams of two carrying a wooden 

table holding the severed heads of sheep or goats. One of 

them held a bucket of burning charcoal, and the other an 

enormous jug of pulque. The lard seller carried upon his 

head a tin holding from fifty to seventy-five pounds of lard. 

Those who could afford it wore a leather apron and a shirt 

made from an old blanket. The poorer ones wore no more than 

cotton trousers as grimy as their bodies, and rosaries crossed 

, - ,1 ,114 

their naked greasy chests. 

The street vendors provided artisans and merchants 
with access to the remotest barrio. The Parian's clothes 
merchants, for example, depended on teen-age boys to hav/k 
their goods throughout the city. The best of these youthful 
peddlers earned the respect of the merchants for their honesty 
in handling the property of others and "their reliability in 
fulfilling contracts. Their position, one stall holder ex- 
plained to the Tribunal de Vagos, was one of "some responsi- 



104 



bility and trust." When the clothing trade was slow, the 
"young peddlers of the Parian turned to selling glassware, 
hardware, or "whatever else presented itself." 

Other vendors were independent businessmen. The cri- 
sollero bartered his plates and glassware for old clothes 
that he resold in the Baratillo. The mercero carried sus- ■ 
pended from an enormous pole hanging across his shoulders 



needles, files, thimbles, spools, knitting 
needles, curetes , balls of thread, hair 
pins, shawl pins, earrings, Navalles and 
Repalda catechisms, cheap editions of ver- 
ses and literature by Inclan and Sixto 
Casillas, games of clay, plates decorated 
with the Siege of Sevastopol, games for 
children, and other trifles. His left 
hand sustained a yardstick and a small 
cane from which hung various thicknesses 
of embroidered dobles and woven point lace 
for petticoats .-^ ' ^ 



The enormous inventory marked him as a small shopkeeper sav- 
ing himself the expense of rent. 

Servants comprised 23 percent of the lowest occupa- 
tional category, but because of the bias of the census, their 

117 
actual percentage was smaller. Scullions, lackeys, and 

errand boys possessed the lowest prestige. Maids, chamber- 
maids, and cooks occupied an intermediate position. The 
aristocrat of the male servant corps was the coachman, usually 
a former hackney driver, peasant, or household domestic who 
had risen through the ranks. The wealthy lavished good treat- 



105 



ment upon the coachman whose services they considered indis- 
pensable in providing the conspicuous pomp of the formal 
visit or promenade. He and his family occupied the best 
room on the ground-floor servant quarters. The coachman 
adopted the characteristics of his master, whether doctor, 
lawyer, civil servant, or general. Wlienever possible the 

coachman demonstrated noblesse oblige to his lesser colleagues' 

1 1 8 
by treating them to free rides. The female housekeeper, 

however, occupied the highest rung in the domestic-staff 

hierarchy. If she was good, then "the troubles of the 

menage rest upon her shoulders, and accustomed to the amiable 

weaknesses of her countrymen, she is neither surprised nor 

] 1 9 
disturbed by them."' 

Two hundred and eighty-eight families on the census 

of 1849 employed an average of three servants. Staffs larger 

than ten, however, were quite common. Over 70 percent resided 

with their employers. Unlike eighteenth-century Paris,, many 

1 20 
Mexican servants preserved their family life. Porters, 

coachmen, and gardeners kept their families in the house- 
holds. ■ In many, wives and daughters worked as chambermaids 
while sons served as errand boys. Others abandoned their 
families temporarily to go into domestic service. The laun- 
dress of senora de la Barca had six children who were left 
to their own devices whenever their mother chose to be em- 
ployed. Her frequent departures from the service of her mis- 
tress, which the senora attributed to laziness, may have been 



106 



caused by the need to spend time with her family. Unmarried 
adolescents managed to maintain some contact with their 
families. A sewing girl hired by the De la Barcas saw her 
family and friends once a week at which time "they would 
have dinner, light their cigars, and together with little 
Josefita, sit and howl and bemoan themselves, roaring, cry- 
ing, and lamenting her sad fate in being obliged to go out 

121 
to service. " 

Domestic service was considered the ideal education 

for a poor girl. The convents, particularly, were the elite 

academies where young girls learned the skills necessary for 

122 
employment in wealthy households or to attract good husbands. 

Josefita, the de la Barcas little servant girl, entered domes- 
tic service under conditions demanded by her mother that "she 

should be taught to read, taken to church, and instructed 

123 
regularly in all kinds of work." 

Poor men disliked domestic service. Only 45 percent 
of the male- servants were natives of Mexico Ci.ty, an indica- 
tion that only luckless male migrants from necessity entered 
the occupation. Its unpopularity probably lay in the power 
of the master to regulate family life and personal conduct. 
Married men, in fact, avoided the trade. Forty-six percent 
of all male domestic servants were single, nearly 80 percent 
greater than the percentage of single men in the entire popu- , 
lation. The contempt of the Jepero, archtype of lower-class 
roguery and independence, for the domestic servant illustrates 



107 



that the lower classes considered personal liberty too great 

. . 1 24 

a sacrifice for secure employment. 

The wealthy recognized that compared to foreign ser- 
vants, native Mexicans were "the perfection of civility: 
humble, obliging, excessively and constantly good tempered, 
and very easily attached to those with whom they live." Their 
virtues, however, were marred by unreliability and filth. 
Sehora de la Barca's maids were forever leaving the .household 
to enjoy long rests (para descansar) . Although the men were 
reasonably clean, it took "a cast iron stomach" to observe 
the long, dirty, matted, uncombed hair of kitchen maids and 
cooks suspended over the soup. 

Begging in Mexico City, as in other preindus trial 

^.126 
cities, was a profession. The law reluctantly recognized 

the trade. It condemned begging among the able-bodied as 

vagrancy but tolerated that of the aged, infirm, or deformed 

as a necessary evil if no poor houses or other charitable 

1 27 
institutions existed. Although schemes abounded to place 

honest beggars in the Hospicio de Pobres, its limited capa- 
city and extremely wretched physical condition made such pro- 

128 

jects unrealistic. Throughout the first half of the nine- 
teenth century, the aged or handicapped obtained the legal 

right to beg by purchasing a license costing one-eighth of 

129 
a real. There was not much shame attached to begging, 

and a few individuals readily admitted to the census takers 

that they earned their living "from providence" or by begging ."^ "^ "^ 



108 



1 3 1 

Deformed and infirm beggars were everywhere. 
Alone, guided by perillos (young boys), carried on the 
shoulders of sturdy assistants or on horseback — all were 
called pordioseros because they began each request for alms 

13 2 

with "por Dios." Whether entering the kitchens of the 
rich or squatting in the portals of convents and churches, 
they were well received. Waddy Thompson, an American diplo- 
mat, remarked that deformity was an asset because it guaran- 

1 3 3 
teed a man a secure income. The success of the beggar 

was due to the special value that Latin Catholicism assigned 
to an act of charity. The presence of the poor was con- 
sidered to be the living and visible testimony of the pres- 
ence of Christ and his doctrine. They were allegorically 
the other Christ and whosoever aided them assured his eter- 
na.l salvation. The giver of alms benefited more than he 

who received. The almsgiver often received more than the 

134 
opportunity to perform an act of perfect grace. An old 

cripple observed by Thompson pandered to the crowd's sadistic 

impulses by performing epileptic fits during which he rolled 

1 3 5 
on the ground and howled like a dog. Others rendered a 

higher level of entertainment. Two old beggars living under 

the portals of San Agustin would recite the following poem 

in unison: 



Escucheme navegante 

que vas surcando tu sombra 

atiende; pues que te nombra 



109 



mi voz en tu paso errante, 
detente y caminante, 
desde el nacir al morir, 
que te pretendo decir, 
que tu vida es todo un susto; 
a asi escucha sin disgusto 
si te quieres divertir 
antes de nacir, causaste 
a tu madre mi], dolores 
penas diste por favores 
y el alma la congogaste 
naciste, mas no cesaste 
de prevenirla tormento 
se te quedo en el olvido 

pues a Dios (Todos los circunstantes se quitaban 

el sombrero) 
has ofendido, 
busca el arrepentimiento ."^ 



13 7 
Women numbered over half of Mexico City's population. 

They were an economically marginal group. Although a very 
few might be artisans, most found employment in domestic ser- 
vice, the production and sale of tortillas, atole, or sweets, 

1 3 8 
or as laundresses. Many worked in the Estanco, and when 

that was not in operation, they converted their tiny rooms 
into estanquillos (small shops). Table 13 lists the- occupa- 
tions of women residing on Manzana 168. Only three profes- 
sions, dressmaking, midwifery, and working as a caretaker in 
a casa de vecindad , gave a poor woman any degree of status. 
A costurera or modista (skilled seamstress) trained 
in European techniques and knowledgeable of European fashions 

13 9 

could develop a wealthy clientele. Single girls thought ■ 
of the occupation as a way of meeting young men of good 
family. The trade was also a respectable occupation for 



110 



spinsters or widows left with children to raise and educate. 
The two maiden aunts who raised the orphaned Guillermo 
Prieto labored tirelessly day and night as seamstresses so 
that they could afford the genteel poverty of the middle 

14 

class. Other seamstresses listed in the census of 1849 
lived in apartments drawing moderate to relatively high 

rents indicating that their craft earned them a degree of 

1 4 1 
economic security and comfort. 

The partera (midwife) was more prestigious than the 

seamstress. Although only thirteen registered midwives 

appeared on the professional census of 1851, there were 

1 42 

probably many more practicing in the barrios. They pro- 
vided a highly valued service. The midwife presiding over 
a childbirth in a midd].e-class Mexican family was the real 
"professor of obstetrics," delivering the baby while the 

doctor comforted the godmother and the father by mumbling 

1 43 
learned Latin phrases. 

■ The casera (female concierge) ruled the casa de ve- 

cindad. In return for a free room, she assigned rooms, kept 

keys, locked the door at curfew, called the police when 

quarrels arose, and collected the rent. A wealthy author 

once described her as a friendly "regulating power" involving 

herself in the residents' personal affairs with an authority 

144 

that exceeded that of the owner. Those "who had the mis- 
fortune to live in a casa de vecindad" thought differently 

14 5 

of her. Angry residents described her as a tyrannical 



Ill 



sultan whose petulant enforcement of regulations, arbitrary 

evictions, and unjustified complaints to the police oppressed 

1 46 
the lives of her vassals. 

There were thousands of other ways that men and women 

gained a living in the capital. Basureros 'Scavenged the trash 

heaps for anything that could be sold to wear or eat. Traperos 

collected old rags and paper to sell to the paper factory. At 

the factory, women found employment washing the rags to pre- 

147 

pare them for processing. In the Plaza de la Constitucion 
scribes sat waiting to pen letters for illiterate clients. A 

declaration of love cost one real; a scolding letter, one-half 

1 4 8 
real; and an upbraiding, two reals. Thousands of men 

worked as unskilled wage laborers for the. municipality or for 

private construction projects. These men were frequently 

underemployed or unemployed because of the depression of the 

. , 14 9 
construction industry. 

In contrast to the artisans, the unskilled wage la- 
borers demonstrated a consciousness based on clear economic 
interest rather than occupational solidarity. In November 
1841 the foremen, laborers, and other wage earners employed 

by the city struck for payment in silver coins or double pay- 
is o 
ment m copper. The tobacco workers possessed a history 

of mutinies that dated from colonial times. In December 1841 

the women workers of the tobacco factory on the Street of San 

Lorenzo held a sit-down strike to demand payment in silver 

currency. Soldiers called to the scene refused to enter the 



112 



factory out of consideration for the women's sex and for 

15 1 
fear of the scissors wielded by the angry workers. 

By modern standards, the Mexican poor, when fully 
employed, did not work many days of the year. Construction 
laborers and other unskilled workers labored whenever em- 
ployment was available. Those who had the good fortune to 

be employed by the city experienced full and year-round em- 

T 15 2 
ployment. These were probably the elite of the unskilled 

labor force. The workers at the modern textile mills aver- 
ts 3 
aged 300 work days yearly. Artisans worked a five-day 

week, taking Sunday and Monday off. At least ten days more 

were taken off because of mandatory religious holidays in- 

15 4 
eluding Christmas and Easter." Althougli foreigners reported 

that every saint's day was an excuse for a holiday, there is 

evidence from the late colonial period that poor artisans, 

defying guild regulations, preferred to work on lesser re- 

1 5 5 
ligious holidays. Assuming full employment, a generous 

estimate is that an artisan or unskilled laborer worked 250 

,156 
days a year. 

Twelve-hour days were the rule. The municipal labor 

15 7 

force worked in twelve-hour shifts. Artisans employed in 
public workshops left work at 9:00 or 10:00 p.m.'^^ Assuming 
a moderate siesta, the late departures indicate a regular 
twelve-hour day. Rinconeras and those who worked in their 
ovm homes labored at their own pace for as long as work 
lasted. 



113 



Wages 

Total annual income and the level of subsistence it 
purchased are far more significant problems than hours of 
employment. Jan Bazant is the only modern scholar who" 
correlates the earnings of the urban republican worker 
with purchasing power. Using Manuel Lerdo de Tejada's 1857 
estimate that the average Mexican spent $.50 weekly on food, 
he concluded that the $3 earned weekly by the poblano tex- 
tile worker was more than enough to live on, especially 
when supplemented by the earnings of wife and children.'^ ^^ 
Bazant errs in applying Lerdo de Tejada's estimate, which 
correctly assumed the majority of the nation's poor to 
be rural laborers, to the urban worker. The cost of 
living was much higher in urban areas. During a series of 
articles discussing the copper money inflation, Siglo Diez 
y Nueve estimated that a bare subsistence income was one 
and one-half reals daily — $67.5 annually per capita, or 
$270 annually for a family of four. The newspaper's 
estimates were commonly accepted. The per capita estimate 
is nearly identical to the $70 that tax legislation required 
"servants of the inferior sort" to calculate into their 
yearly incomes to cover the hidden wages of room and board. 
The $270 necessary to support a family 'of four is quite 
close to the $300 minimum annual income below which people 
lived in such misery that later legislation exempted them 



1]4 



from the payment; of the direct tax. The estimate may 
understate the cost of subsistence. Some obrajes granted 
live-in workers an allowance of two reals a day to cover 

,162 

meals . 

. The newspaper's estimate assumed full employment 
and sound currency. The economy did not supply full em- 
ployment, and the curse of copper money reduced real wages. 
The poor received copper coins worth one eighth to one 
quarter of their face value. They purchased food from a 
merchant who adjus.ted his prices to reflect the real value 
ot the coinage. At times the merchant would adjust his 
prices even higher to protect himself from official deval- 
uations or speculatory spirals. Real income consequently 
plummeted. Before 1837 the discount on copper money aver- 
aged 37 to 40 percent. After 1837 the discount could go as 
high as 25 percent, but averaged 10 percent. Over the long 

run, the wage laborer could loose 50 percent of his real in- 

. „ T . 1 6 4 
come to inflation. 

Even without inflation, most of the poor earned less 
than the annual $270 to $300 necessary to support a family 
of four. Appendix C~2 lists servant wages. Male and fe- 
male live-in servants received $3 to $5 a month. The pam- 
pered coachman received from $15 to $18 monthly, but $7 was 
expected to cover the expense of his equipage . ^ ^' ^ Male ser- 
vants living outside the house received $12 a month. An 
entire family engaged in domestic service vwuld have no 



115 



trouble supporting itself from the combined income of its 
members. A single servant could maintain himself comfortably, 
but a married man could not hope to support himself, his 
wife, and children on an income that came to little more 
than half of that assumed necessary for family subsistence. 

The aguador earned about $4 for every 200 deliveries. 
The demand for water was constant, and his earnings depended 
upon only his desire and his health. The wages paid to the 
city's street-paving crews give some idea of what a fully 
employed, unskilled worker might earn. Medio-cucharas (semi- 
skilled workers) received wages of $3 a week. The unskilled 
peon received $2,25 a week. Their incomes came to $144 
and $120 annually, far belovv the estimated level of family 
subsistence. Municipal workers, however, were the elite of 
the unskilled labor force because they enjoyed full employ- 
ment. The annual income of those working in private con- 
struction or as simple day laborers may have been far lower. 

The 150 artisans, some of whom were masters, listed 
on the industrial census of 1849 earned an average of $3 a 
week, identical to the servant and unskilled laborer. 
Table 14 shows the similar economic status of artisan and 
unskilled laborer by a comparison of mean rents. Seventy-one 
percent of the artisans paid the same rents as 84 percent of 
the unskilled. Artisans, however, were the wealthier group. 
The percentage of artisans paying over $4 in rent was twice 
as high as that of the unskilled. 



116 



The similar mean rents do not tell whether both arti- 
sans and unskilled laborers experienced constant employment. 
The extremely depressed and erratic economy probably caused 
unsteady employment for both groups. The quantitative evi- 
dence is contradictory. Over half of the suspected vagrants 
requiring two or more trades to earn a living were unskilled 
laborers. However, 63 percent of the suspects earning in- 
sufficient income to support a family were artisans. Per- 
haps during hard times unskilled laborers changed jobs while 
artisans refused to abandon their crafts. 

The similar incomes of artisans and unskilled laborers 
vary with the general rule that artisans could support a 
family on their incomes while the unskilled could not. The 
conclusion is based on empirical studies of nineteenth- 
century European and North American cities. Most recently 
.Michael Katz and Stephen Thernstrom demonstrated that the 
artisans of Hamilton, Ontario, and Newburyport, Massachusetts, 
earned considerably more than the unskilled laborer. Thern- 
strom concluded that in Newburyport the unskilled laborer 

earned so little that he had to resort to charity or crime 

, .109 

m order to survive. 

Torcuato di Telia, in his article, "The Dangerous 
Classes in Nineteenth-Century Mexico," assumed that a wage 
differential between artisans and unskilled laborers existed 
m Mexico City. The grounds for his assumption are the con- 
c].usions of European and North American researchers and the 



117 



statement in the Museo Mexicano that "wages of the populacho 

,,17 
were scarcely enough to cover their necessities. His 

assumption is refuted by the inclusion of artisans within 

the ranks of the "miserable people" and the quantitative data 

referred to above. 

The quantitative evidence that a poor man could not 

provide for his family is supported by the opinion of Juan 

Barquera, author of a pamphlet advocating measures to increase 

the Republic's population. 



A lad with good education will always earn 
enough to support himself, but no more. 
However, when he is married he will not 
have saved enough money to satisfy future 
necessities like childbirth, raising child- 
ren, and illnesses. VJhen these occur, the 
wage laborer goes into a debt with his em- 
ployers that he can never repay. '"^^ 



Although Barquera uses the word jornalero (wage laborer) in 
the passage, his reference to "a lad with a good education" 
indicates that he is referring to an artisan. In the prein- 
dustrial world, apprenticeship to a skilled craft was the 
best education that a poor boy could obtain. 

The inabi].ity of an adult male to earn a subsistence 
income for his family leads to the assumption that the labor 
of his xjife was a necessity for the survival of the family. 

The thirty-eight females on the census of 1849 reported an 

17 2 
average wage of $1.00 a week. This amounted to $60 a year 



118 



and could bring the total family income of an artisan or 
semiskilled laborer to within 75 percent of the family sub- 
sistence level. Paradoxically, most married women did not 
work. On the censuses of 1842 and 1844, only unmarried 

women or widows, with a few exceptions, gave their occupa- 

17 3 
tions. Assuming the necessity of the wife's income to 

secure subsistence, there seem to be two plausible reasons 
for the censuses. The census taker recorded the husband's 
occupation and considered that of the wife too menial for 
inclusion, or he feared that inquiry into the wife's occu- 
pation would offend her husband. 

The children of the poor worked constantly. The one 
to one and one-half reals daily that a child might earn from 
hawking matches, sweets, fruit, or newspapers were essential 
to the family. The nonattendance of poor children at school 

was commonly attributed to the parents' need for the child's 

1 74 
wages . 

Single women or widows faced a difficult struggle on 
their meager earnings. Sixty pesos annually would barely 
support a single person. Many women chose to live together. 
In the barrio of San Salvador el Seco, 27 percent of all 
matrifocal households were women living together. In Neca- 
titlan, 31 percent of the matrifocal households were female 

175 

menages. Most female households possessed young children, 
and it is interesting to speculate that an older adult served 
as a baby sitter for working mothers. ' 



119 



Although the learned Society of Geography and Statis- 
tics denied that many prostitutes existed in Mexico City, 
the oldest profession flourished, one of the few occupations 
at which women could earn a decent income. ' The problem 
of young girls or widows turning to prostitution was so 
serious that it was argued before the ayuntamiento that 
foreign seamstresses should be encouraged to establish them- 
selves within the city so that young girls would be taught 

] 7 7 
a more useful and moral career. 

Wealthy Mexicans believed that the poor artisans 

frittered away their spare money on gambling and drinking 

rather than saving it or spending it on the goods that 

would increase national production. The Semanario Artis- 

tico assumed the journeyman's prodigality when it encouraged 

the establishment of savings accounts and mutual benefit 

1 79 
societies. It is doubtful, however, that people who 

before inflation "earned scarcely enough to eat or half 
dress" would consider anything more than an immediate 
pleasure with the few coins that they could save. Infla- 
tion, according to the affluent contributors to Siglo Diez 
y Nueve , made the development of thrifty habits an impossi- 
biiity. 

Zerfermia Verdigul's case illustrates the futility 
of saving. She and her lover lived together for eight 



years, supporting themselves by selling fruit and eggs 



on 



1 O 1 

the city's streets. When they parted, they had accumulated 



120 



a joint savings of $8 and a few bits of furniture. 
Their savings provide some idea of what a childless, poor 
couple might expect to save in eight years. Let us now 
examine whether it was sufficient to provide for life's 
emergencies. Marriage at the church of Santa Catarina 
Martir cost $6,6. A supervised childbirth, a frequent 

necessity in a land of delicately boned women, required 

18 3 
$15. Burial in the cemeteries beyond the garitas (be- 
tween 1833 and 1849, the only legal burial grounds) cost a 

minimum of $8 — at least $4 for the frightened cargador who 

18 4 
carried the body and $4 more for the burial. A shoe- 

■1 Q C 

maker's tool kit adequate to earn one a living cost $8. 
Any one expense would have exhausted the couple's life 
savings. Two or more would have driven them into debt. 



Notes 



1 
This figure differs slightly from that presented in 

the first chapter because small shopkeepers and other re- 
spectable nonartisanal trades were removed from the artisanal 
category to give a more accurate idea of its size. They 
amounted to no more than 5 percent of the category. 

"See Table E-2. 

AACM, tomo 4154, exps . 168, 185. 
4 
"Colegio artistico," Semanario Artistico , 16 noviem- 

bre 1845, p. 1. 

''aACM, tomo 2478, exp. 12. 

6 
AACM, tomo 4152, exp. 64; tomo 4154, exp. 185; tomo 



4156, exp. 264b. 



121 



AACM, tomo 4154, exp . 168. 

' 8 . , ■ ' 

Diccionario de la industria, manufacturera , comercio 

y agrlcola, trad. Jose M. Flores Verdad, 4 tomos (Mexico, D.F. 

1852) , tomo 1, p. 226. 

9 
AACM, tomo 4154, exp. 16 3. "Fondo de benef icencia, " 

- Semanario Artist.ico , 3 marzo 1844, p. 2. 

1 

AACM, tomo 2478, exp. 32. Juaquin Escriche, Diccio- 
nario razonado . . . (Paris, 1856), "Aprendizaje. " 

AACM, tomo 4154, exp. 171. 

1 2 

Ay\CM, tomo 4154, exp. 63. 
AACM, tomo 4J.54, exp. 185. 
AACM, tomo 4153, exp. 121. 

\aACM, tomo 4151, exp. 9. 

16 

Diccionario de la industria, tomo 1, pp. 226, 227. 

1 7 

Ibid. 

AACM, tomo 4152, exp. 74. 

1 9 

Diccionario de la industria, tomo 1, pp. 226, ,227. 

AACM, tomo 425 2, exp. 74. 

21 

Carrera Stanipa, Los gremios, p. 285. Manuel Payno, 
Los banditos de Rio Frio (Mexico, D.F., 1945). 

■^"AACM, tomo 4154, exp. 192. 

AACM, tomo 4161, exp. 691. 

AACM, tomo 2478, exp. 32. 

2 5 

"Remitido," Semanario Artistico, 3 agosto 1844, p. 4. 

2 6 

AACM, tomo 4152, exp. 64; tomo 4154, exps . 64, 156, 

198. 

27 

AACM, tomo 4152, exp. 62; tomo 4154, exp. 186; tomo 

4157, exp. 315b; tomo 4160, exp. 356. 
AACM, tomo 4154, exp. 192. 

AACM, tomo 4153, exp. 121; tomo 4154, exp. 185. 
AACM, tomo 4152, exp. 74. 

31 

Los extrangeros y los adventureros (Mexico, D.F., 
1832), p. 14. Diario Oficial, 11 agosto 1844, p. 1. 

AACM, tomo 2478, exp. 28. 

3 3 

"Editorial," Siglo Diez y Nueve , 11 noviembre 1841, 
p. 3. ^ ■ ' 



122 



3 4„ . ^ ^ 

Francisco Lopez Camara, Los fundamentos de la econo- 

.mla mexicana en la 6poca de la Reforma y la Intervencion (Mexi- 
co,, D.F., 1962), 

35 

Representacion. 

3 6 ^ 

The percentage is 21 percent for the 6,000 artisan 

estimate and 35 percent for the 10,000 artisan estimate. 
37 

Mayer, p. 83. Calderon de la Barca, p. 286. 

AACM, tomo 4153, exp . 130. ■ ■ 

^vfllson, pp. 282-86. 

4 

Herbert G. Gutman, "Work, Culture, and Society in 
Industrializing America, 1815-1919," American Historical Re- 
view, June 1973, pp. 531-88. 

41 

Garcia Cubas (1945), p. 241. 

"Prieto (1964), pp. 85, 86. 

"AACM, tomo 4157, exp. 315b. 
4 4 

"Mexico," Semanario Artistico, 24 febrero 1844, p. 
4. AACM, tomo 4151, exp. 9; tomo 4152, exp. 82; tomo 4779, 
exp. 346. 

AACM, tomo 4779, exp. 343. 

'aACM, tomo 4151, exp. 36. 
47 

Roberto de la Cerda Silva, El movimiento obrero en 
Mexico (Mexico, D.F., 1961), pp. 59-62. 

48„ . 
^Diego G. Lopez Rosado, Historia y pensamiento econo- 

mico de Mexico, 6 tomos (Mexico, D.F., 1968), tomo 2, p. 280. 

Maria del Carmen Merino Gambino, "Historia sociologica del tra- 

bajo en Mexico" (Tesis, Licenciado en ciencias sociales , Uni- 

versidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, 1969), p. 82. Rosendo 

Rojas Corias, Tratado de cooperativismo mexicano (Mexico D F 

1952), pp. 59-61. 

49 

Alexander von Humbolt, Political Essay on the King- 
dom of New Spain, trans. John Black, 3 vols. (New York, 1966), 
vol. 3, pp. 463-64. 

50 

Carrera Stampa, Los gremios , pp. 267-68. 

AACM, tomo 383, exp. 21. 

5 2 

AACM, tomo 383, exps. 18, 20. 

53 

AACM, tomo 383, exp. 21. 

54 ■ ■ 

AACM, tomo 383, exps. 18, 20.' 
55 

AACM, tomo 383, exps. 18, 20. 



123 



AACM, tomo 383, exps . 18, 20. 

5 7 

"Durango," Museo Mexicano , Lomo 1, p. 125. 

^^AACM, tomo 3409. 
^'''oi Telia, pp. 95-98. 

6 

Thornton, p. 59. 

AACM, tomo 4152, exps. 79, 83; tomo 2892, "Contra 
Jose Maria Ortiz, 1853," "Contra Jose Maria Chaira, 1853." 

G 2 

"Necesidad de ins truccion, " Hi jo de Trabajo, 24 

septiembre 1876, p. 1. . 

\aCM, tomo 3453, exp . 92. 

64 

Rodriguez de San Miguel, pp. 102-106. 

AACM, tomo 2889, "Contra Loreto Flores, 2 Febrero 
1853." 

AACM,- tomo 345 3, exp. 92. 

67 , ^ ■ 

Horrosa crueldad del obraje de Posadas (Mexico, 

D.F., 1826). 

68 

AACM, tomo 2892, "Contra Guadalupe Orea, 3 abril ' 

1853"; tomo 4154, exp. 185. 

AACM, tomos 3409, 3413. 

70 

AACM, tomo 2892, "Contra Jose Maria Ortiz," "Contra 

Juan Battierra," "Contra Jose Maria Chaira." 

71 

Ibi d . 

72 

Genaro V. Vasquez, Legislacion del trabajo en los 

siglos XVI, XVII, XVIII (Mexico, D.F., 1936). 

73,, 

Nuestros artesanos, p. 1. 

AACM, tomo 2889, "Contra Bernadino Perez, 1853." 

7 5 

AACM, tomo 2891, "Contra Teodora Vasquez; tomo 

2889, "Contra Manuel Sanchez, Tomas Uribe, y Florentino 
Mendez." 

Mexico," p. 2. 

77 

AACM, tomo 2891, "Contra Jose Maria Morales." 

7 J^ 

"Remitido," Semanario Artistico , 2 febrero 1844, p. 2 
Gutman . 



80 
81 



AACM, tomo 4154, exp. 89; tomo 4151, exp. 9. 

AACM, tomo 2890, "Contra Tomas Uribe." "La embria- 
guez," Semanario Artistico, 16 marzo 1844, p., 1. 



124 



82,, 

Casas de Vecmdad," Siglo Diez y Nueve , 11 noviem- 
■bre 1841, p. 2. AACM, tomo 4154, exp. 186. 
8 3 

La embriaguez," p, 1. 

8 4,, 

Remitido," Semanario Art.istico, 3 agosto 1844, 
p. 4. 

8 5 

AACM, tomo 4152, exp. 62; tomo 4154, exp. 186. 
86 

Cofradia de Santa Cruz, Patents de las indulgencias 
y privilegios (Mexico, D.F., 1849). 

87 

See Tables B-1 and B-2. 

88 

Cofradia de senor Horaobono, Patente de las indulgen- 
cias y privilegios (Mexico, T).F., 1836). 

8 9 " • 

AACM, tomo 2939, "Incidente de Gregorio Bonilla." 

iVACM, tomos 4151-58, 4778-88. 

9 1 

AACM, tomo 4154, exp. 168. 
■92 

J. R. Vicent, Pollbooks: How Victorians Voted (Cam- 
bridge, 1967), as quoted in Michael B. Katz, "Social Structure 
in Hamilton, Ontario," ed. Stephen Thernstrom and Richard Sen- 
nett. Nineteenth Century Cities (New Haven, Connecticut, 1969) 
p. 214. 

9 3 

"Fomento de las artes," Semanario Artistico , 9 fe- 
brero 1844, p. 3. 
9 4,, 

"El trabajo," Semanario Artistico, 20 abril 1841, 
P- 1- |]I^a embriaguez," p. 1. "Mexico," idem, 2 febrero 1842, 
p. 1. "Instruccion general," idem, 7 julio 1844, p. 1. "Ef- 
fectos nacionales," idem, 4 mayo 1844, p. 1. "Peticion " idem 
27 abril 1844, p. 1. 

95„ . 

Rojas Corias, tomo 4, p. 216. 

9 6 

The British social historian E. J. Hobsbawm notes 
that in the early nineteenth century, European industrialists 
were undecided whether the capitalistic system or various 
Utopian socialist systems were the most efficient forms of 
industrialized society. Their indecision, in my opinion, 
reflects a vestigal sense of artisanal unity; idem. The Age 
of Democratic Revolutions (New York, 1962), p. 304. William 
L. Langer, Political Reform and Social Upheaval, 1832-1852 
(New York, 1969), pp. 181-214. 

AACM, tomo 383, exp. 34. 
9 8 

Representacion. 

9 9 

See Table E-3. 

1 

Thornton, pp. 50-51. 

1 1 

See Table E-3. 



125 



Garcia Cubas (1945), p. 240. 
103„ 

Remitido, Siglo Diez y Nueve , 11 noviembre 1841, 
p. .1. 

] 4 

Museo Mexicano, tomo 3, pp. 173-75. 
105 

Ihid. Rivera Canibas, tomo 2, p. 90. 

1 6 

Rivera Carnbas , tomo 2, p. 90. 
1 07 

Museo Mexicano, tomo 3, pp. 173-75. 
108 ^, 

Dubian and Lozano, tomo 5, ley 3448. 
10 9 ' . 

Museo Mexicano, tomo 3, pp. 37 3-77. 
1 J 

AACM, tomo 3673, exp . 18. 
1 1. 1 

AACM, tomo 148, "Actas secretas de 10 octubre 1828." 

"Garcia Cubas (1945), pp. 238-39. 
113^ 

Calderon de la Barca, p. 110. 

114 

Garcia Cubas (1945), pp. 238-39. 
] 15 

AACM, tomo 4153, exp. 133; tomo 4154, exp. 162. 
IK, 

Garcia Cubas (1945), p. 219. 

See Table E-3. 
lis 

Museo Mexicano, tomo 3, pp. 373-77. 
119^ 

Calderon de la Barca, p. 257. 
120 

Kaplow, p. 51. 

121 

Calderon de la Barca, pp. 253-57. 

12 2 

• ^ "Noticia de, los conventos del arzobispado de Mexico, 
ano de 1826," Boletin del Archivo General de la Nacion, no. 3 
(1953), p. 475. 

123 

Calderon de la Barca, p. 25'3. 
1 2 4 

Prieto (1964), p. 206. 

125^ 

Calderon de la Barca, pp. 253-57. 

Gideon Sjoberg, The Preindustrial City (New York, 
1960), p. 203. 

127 

Escriche, "Vagos," "Mendigos." 
] 28 

AACM, tomo 168, "Actas de 1 septiembre 1846." 

1 29 

AACM, tomo 4158, exp. 337. 

130 

AACM, tomo 3409, "Manzana 60"; tomo 3413 "Man- 
zanas 168, 186." 

13 1 

Garcia Cubas (1945), pp. 244-45. ' 



126 



13 2 . ^ 

Ruxton, p. 51. Thompson, p. 149, Mayer, p. 55. 

133 

Thompson, p. 149. 

Maria Jimenez Salas, Historia de la asistencia 
social en Espana en la edad mode ma , Monografias Historicos- 
Sociales, vol. 4 (Madrid, 1958), pp. 9, 33, 64. 

] 3 5 

Thompson, p. 149. 

Garcia Cubas (1945), p. 255. 

1 3 7 

AACM, tomo 3411, "Copia del padron de 1842." 

138 

See Table C-4. 

1 39 

Los extrangeros . 

^' "Prieto (1964) , p. 130. 

'"^^AiVCM, tomo 3409, "Manzana 57." 

' ~AGN, tomo 82. 

"* Garcia Cubas (1945), p. 102. 

14 4. 

Rivera Cambas , tomo 2, p. 157. 

145 

"Casas," p. 2. 

'"Remitido," 23 octubre 1849, p. 3. 

14 7,, ,, 

El papal," Semanario Artistico, 25 enero ,1845, p. 1, 

148 

Mayer, p. 40. 

149 ^ 

Felix F. Palavicini, Mexico: historia de su evolu- 

cion constructiva, 6 toraos (Mexico, D.F., 1955), tomo 2, pp. 

198-200. 

AACM, tomo 3284, exp. 14. ' , 

1 5 1 

Bustamante, p. 24. 

''"AACM, tomos 1272-1300. 

"Bazant, "La industria textil," p. 34. 

1 5 4 

Mariano Josef Zuniga de Ontiveros, Calendario 

manual y guia para el aho de 1820 (Mexico, D.F., 1820), pp. 

96-97. 

155 

Calderon de la Barca, p. 66. AACM, tomo 383, exp. 

20. 

156,. 

This is the exact figure that Kaplow concludes the 

laboring poor of Paris worked, although it was calculated from 

entirely different data. 

AACM, toraos 1272-1300. 

15 8 

AACM, tomo 2889, "Contra Abraham Monterano, Juan 
Canalla, y Roque Perez, 1853," "Contra Rafael Lerma, 1853." 



127 



15 9 

Bazant, "Industria algonera," pp. 141-42. 

16 

Editorial," Siglo Diez y Nueve , 14 noviembre 1841. 
16 1 ^ 

Dublan and Lozano, tomo 4, leyes 2311, 2590. 

AACM, tomo 4151, exp . 9; tomo 2892, "Contra Jose 

Maria Chaira, 1853." 

163^^ 

Jose Maria Curiaga, Gabino Sanchez, Jose Maria 

Gonzalez, Rafael P. Murgia, Ignacio Maiion, Agustin Cruz, 

Jose Agreda, "Sobre efectos de dinero de cobre," Siglo Diez 

y Nueve, 11 noviembre 1841, p. 3. 

"Editorial," 12 noviembre 1841, p. 4. 
1 6 5 

Museo Mexicano , tomo 3, pp. 37 3-77. 

1 6 6 

Ibid., pp. 173-75. 

^''^AACM, tomos 1272-1300. 

16 8 

See Table C-4. 

1 6 9 

Katz, p. 232. Stephen Thernstrom, Poverty and Pro- 
gress: Social Mobility in a Nineteenth Century Tovm (Cam- 
bridge, Massachusetts, 1964), p. 22. 

'"dI Telia, pp. 79-105. 
1 71 

Juan Wenceslao Barquera, Disertacion economica- 
politica sobre los medios de aumentar la poblacion de los 
Estados Unidos Mexicanos y su illustracion y riqueza (Mexico 
D.F., 1825), pp. 10-16. 

1 72 

See Table C-4. 
1 73 

Dorothy T. Estrada, "Las escuelas lancastrianas en 
la Ciudad de Mexico," Historia Mexicana, vol, 22, no. 4, p. 
508, fn. 33. 

174 

AACM, tomo 2477, exp. 30; tomo 2479, exp. 389. 

AACM, tomo 3413, "Manzanas 57 and 60." 
. 1 76 

Ateneo Mexicano, 1844, pp. 317-18. Los extrangeros , 
p. 6. AACM, tomo 161, "Actas de 11 noviembre 1841." Siglo 
Diez y Nueve, 16 julio 1848, p. 4. 

177 

Los extrangeros , p. 3. 
1 7 8 

AACM, tomo 522, exp. 14. Otero, Obras , tomo 1, 

pp. 139-47. Poinsett, p. 84. Elliot Liebow, Tal ley's Corner 
(New York, 196 7) . 

179„ 

Cuentas de ahorros , " Semanario Artistico, 7 iulio 
1844, p. 2. 

180 

Curiaga et al . , p. 3. 
1 81 

AACM, tomo 2889, "Contra Zefermia Verdiguil." 



128 



1 8 2 

Becerro: parroquia de Santa Catarina Marti r 

(Mexico, D.F.: Filmoteca del Instituto de Geneologica y 

Heraldia, agosto 1832), rollo 301, vols. 16-21. 

1 83 

AACM, tomo 2760, "Contra Diego Bolles." 

' AACM, tomo 36 75, exp . 26. 

■| K5 

AACM, tomo 4154, exp. 80. A cobbler took out a 
loan to obtain the money necessary to purchase the tool kit, 



CHAPTER THREE 



LIFE STYLES, HEALTH, DEMOGRAPHY 



The low people who lived on the out- 
skirts of and in some central points 
of the city kept miserable conditions 
which fortunately today appear to us 
in every way incredible . 

— Guillermo Prieto, ]886 



Life Styles 

, Dramatically different life styles separated the mes- 
tizo poor from the white and Europeanized upper and middle 
classes. For the sake of contrast, the differences in 
clothing, diet, and habitations will be described in detail. 

About 1850 a truly elegant young man wore cashmere 
wool pants embroidered with branches, flowers, and even dolls, 
The decorations created the impression that the garment was 
made of carpeting material. A broad tie of many brilliant 
colors, fastened by a sparkling glass solitaire, fell across ■ 
his finely pleated shirt which was covered by a velvet waist- 
coat colored cherry, sea green, or Prussian blue. His outer 
garment was an overcoat or an enormous Spanish cape with a 



129 



130 



beaver collar. Laced half-boots or full riding boots com- 
pleted the outfit. During the ground swell of nationalistic 
feeling that followed the defeat of Mexico by the United 
States, dashing young men dressed in the leather breeches, 
richly embroidered ponchos, and broad sombreros of the 

2 

Mexican ranchers." 

The middle classes substituted cheaper textiles, but 
emulated the standards of the wealthy. The very rich pur- 
chased their clothes at exclusive French tailors; the mer- 
chant's clerk and the minor civil servant were the "parish- 
ioners" of the rinconera . 

Women wore a high-bodiced, ti.ght-waisted , full-skirted 
dress that dropped to the floor. The dress demanded the use 

of whale-bone corset, many petticoats, and crinoline and steel 

3 
hoops. Women also affected the costume of the china, the 

Mexican ideal of mestiza beauty. Her costume was a blouse 
of fine linen embroidered with glass jewlry and an ankle-length 
skirt fastened by a broad belt of crepe with large pleats that 
opened and closed around the hips. An elegant exterior petti- 
coat of green silk bordered by beaver, spangles, or simple 

ribbon fell upon the white lace ruffles of the interior petti- 

4 
coats. Fine lace stockings completed the outfit. The china's 

dress so captivated Fanny Calderon de la Barca that she chose 

to wear it to a formal ball given in her honor by President 

Anastacio Bustamante. 



131 



Following the fashions was not only slavery but mar- 
tyrdom. The tight garters and belts worn by the men created 
a bagging at the knees giving tVie appearance that the 
trousers contained cotton bales. Crossing one's legs while 
seated in company snapped the garter belt. Tight corsets 
tortured the women. Walking in the streets was impossible 
because full skirts obstructed passers-by and collected 
filth. During the rainy season it was improper for women 
to walk abroad because the street puddles immodestly 
reflected their interior petticoats. During formal visits 
gentlemen averted their eyes as the ladies struggled when 
seating themselves to keep their hoops from rising to 
indecorous heights. 

The clothing of the poor was a historical scandal. 
In 1789 Viceroy Revillagigedo wrote of "tlie shameless and 
indecent nudity" of a great part of the plebe who wore only 
"a tattered blanket or a filthy jerkin that does not manage 
to cover them entirely." The women, complained a police offi- 
cial, were "in every way worse than the men, lacking the 
slightest shame or the slightest fear." Clothing codes were 
issued and demanded such simple additions as a shirt, a cotton 

7 

jacket or vest, half-breeches, and shoes. 

The high price of clothing fostered nudity. Workers 
indebted themselves to purchase the simple garments required 
by law. Shoes were expensive, and the thrifty purchased those 

o 

stripped from the victims of contagious disease. Most went 
barefoot. 



132 



Pos tindependence Indus ti-ialization and expanded 
trade brought an improvement in the dress of the poor. In 
1828 Henry Ward, the British ambassador to Mexico, reported 

that nudity had disappeared from the streets of Mexico City 

9 
because of the importation of cheap British textiles. 

Robert Wilson made a similar observation in 1854. Lucas 
Alaman, an enthusiastic promoter of Mexican industrializa- 
tion, claimed the change in dress was due to the moderniza- 
tion of the Mexican textile industry. According to Alaraan, 
before independence the cheap cotton cloth from which the 
poor fashioned their clothing cost three reals per vara. 
In 1843 the best quality cloth cost two reals per vara and 
was twice as thick, representing a real savings of two 
thirds and increasing the per capita consumption of the 
material. The aduana' s records confirm Alaman ' s . In 
1844 and 1845 the wholesale price of cheap cotton cloth at 
the Plaza de Mexico was one and three-fifths reals per vara.' 

Ready-made clothing was prohibitively expensive. 
The least expensive pair of trousers to be purchased at 
the tailor shop of the Acordada prison sold for $2, two 
thirds of a poor man's weekly salary. The prices of vests 
and jackets began at $1.75 and $2.00 respectively. ' Used 
clothing was also expensive. The average artisan worked 
over a day to earn the five reals to purchase a pair of 
cotton trousers; a $2 serape represented nearly two thirds 
of his weekly wages. A cotton blanket or a quilt required 



133 



three days of labor or twelve reals. Four petticoats cost 
seventeen reals, over four days wages. 

Partial nudity remained. In 1841 the ayuntamiento 
complained that naked beggars assailed the customers of 
cafes and ice cream parlors. The exposure of the women 
offended the public decency. " About the same time, Prieto 
wrote of the people of the poorer barrios: 



One could not say that they were dressed, 
because one should not qualify rags as 
dress. They were great consumers of the 
products of Baron and Iglesias [manufac- 
turers of cheap textiles], of rebozos and 
paliacates ; bosoms uncovered in all their 
amplitude, men in half-trousers with half 
their body naked. i*^ 



At best the poor dressed shabbily. According to the 
Museo Mexicano , a typical lepero wore a straw sombrero; a 
tattered blanket or serape; broad, xcfhite cotton breeches 
or half-breeches of leather, fastened by a belt of sisal. 

1 7 

If he wore shoes, he had scavenged them from the trash. 
Respectable artisans dressed badly. The skilled wax sculptor 
visited by Mayer was "scarcely di.s tinguishable from a lepero." 
Clothing mjsrged all poor men into an indistinguishable mass. 
Edward Tylor and a friend remarked on the similarity of dress 
after visiting the Acordada in 1857. 



The inmates were brown Indians or half- 
breed Mexicans appearing to belong to 



134 



the poorest class, but just like the 
average of the people in the streets 
outside. As my companion said: "If 
these fellows are thieves and mur- 
derers, so are our servants and so is 
every man in a serape that we meet in 
the streets."' ^ 



Only during religious festivals did poor men show a 
degree of sartorial elegance and imagination. During the 
carnival they became "fantastic knights in their glittering 

20 

accouterments . The costumes were expensive. Aguadores 
pledged their water deliveries months in advance to purchase 

2 1 

Holy Week costumes. 

Women dressed with slightly more decorum than the 
males. A well-dressed mestiza wore white cotton petticoats; 
a coLton blouse colored a sober blue, brown, or gray; and a 
small, equally sober rebozo or shawl which passed over the 

2 '' 

arch of a hair comb perched atop her head. ~ At her best, 
dressed more colorfully, hair neatly combed and dark eyes 
shining, she became the idealized china." The lepera never 
approached that ideal. 



Continually slovenly, with her hair in 
disorder, a disheveled blouse, mended 
petticoats with patches of a thousand 
colors and even of leather, [she] was 
always collecting cigar or cigarette 
butts, eating fruit peels, and drink- 
ing mescal in the doors of the wine 
shops .- 



135 



In the colonial period, clothing worn by Creole, mes- 
tizo, and Indian readily marked caste. Clothing of the Re- 
public served a similar purpose. The caste system was dead; 
however, the sparse, ill-fitting, ragged, and filthy dress 
of urban mestizos marked them as pariahs. John Tylor thought 
the upper classes shunned the serape as a lower-class mark. 

When he attempted to visit a friend's house while wearing 

2 5 
one, he was set upon by the watchdog. 

Usua.].ly the capital was well provisioned. In 1857 

Mexico City imported 25,677 head of cattle, 151,246 sheep and 

goats, 71,814 hogs, 91,194 cargas (one carga is equivalent to 

approximately 250 pounds) of maize, 23,299 cargas of barley, 

26 
and ]-22,961 cargas of wheat. The provisions were given by 

an extended hinterland. Maize, vegetables, and livestock 

came from areas immediately surrounding the city and from a 

2 7 
few patches of arable ground surviving within the garitas. 

The haciendas of Chalco thirty miles southwest were the tradi- 
tional sources of maize, but careless cultivation of the 
Valley of Mexico resulted in inconsistent and insufficient 

2 8 

harvests. V/ith the late-colonial famines, authorities de- 

2 9 

veloped more distant sources of supply. The plain of To- 
luca, some sixty miles distant, provided haras,' wheat, maize, 

and beans. Wheat came from as far away as Orizaba in the 

3 1 ' . 

state of Vera Cruz. 

Food for the wealthy and the middle classes was plen- 
tiful and varied. Guillermo Prieto described a typical middle- 



136 



class diet. Breakfast began with sweetened hot chocolate 
for adults or atole for children. Coffee with milk and 
toast, biscuits, or pastries followed. A large glass of 
distilled water completed the meal. At eleven o'clock, 
chocolate or atole was served with anisette. Mid-afternoon 
supper consisted of bread soup, an "anemic" roast garnished 
with mustard and chile sauce, eggs in chile, and a wide 
variety of local vegetables. The "popular bean, friend of 
the disinherited, the consolidation of the hungry, the 
heavenly bean" served with pickled onion, cheese, and spiced 
sauces occupied the place of honor and was plentiful. For 
dessert, honey flavored with grated orange graced toasted 
tortillas. Snackers refreshed at night with a light dinner 
of mole, stewed meat, and a lettuce salad. During holidays 
and family reunions, tables were laden sumptuously with ex- 

3 2 

.pert preparations. 

The diet of the poor was sparse and unappetizing. 

At breakfast, pastries or brioche rolls were washed down 

3 3 
With atole, clear tea, or aguardiente. At irregular in- 
tervals throughout the day they were sustained with "three 
friends" — maize tortillas, beans, and chile — supplemented by 

morsels of meat or fat that "would horrify any national 

1 „3 4 
stomach. This diet was so frugal that nutritionists 

hailed the introduction of green vegetables, fresh fruit, 

and porridge during the last years of the Porfiriato (1876- 

1910) as a significant nutritional advance. 



137 



Tlie poor did not eat at home. Food was purchased 
from sidewalk vendors and restaurants. The extremely poor 
were nourished with chi].e boiled in lard, beans, and lump 
of meat on a tortilla. Lacking eating utensils, they folded 
the torti].la to create an empahada (turnover). The more 
fortunate carried clay plates and used the tortilla as a 
forlc. 

Wiolesale-f ood cost lists for the republican period, 

similar to those upon which Enrique Florescano based his 

37 
masterful study of late-colonial maize prices, do not exist. 

Fortunately, political crises and epidemics motivated a 

series of price-fixing decrees that give some idea of food 

costs. In 1832 and 1841, a 42-ounce loaf of coarse bread 

cost one real. During the cholera epidemic of 1833, a 30- 

38 
ounce loaf sold for one. real. Wieaten bread, however, was 

39 
too expensive for the poor whose staple was maize. The 

40 

price of inexpensive Tolucan maize varied with the harvests. 
Table 15 shows its price per carga during the years for which 
there are records. The average price for the eight-year 
period was $6.75. One real could purchase 5 pounds of maize. 
Table 15 also compares the price per carga of beans for a 
six-year period. The average price for the period was $9 per 
carga, or one real for each 4 pounds. 

The published prices seem inexpensive, but do not 
represent the true cost of food. The quotation of price per 
carga indicates these were wholesale prices. The retailer's 



13i 



markup is unknown. The cost of food occupied a very large 
portion of the poor man's budget. In the colonial period, 

it was common for the poor to flee the market without paying 

41 
for provisions. In 1850 the Society of Charity attributed 

the irregular school attendance of poor children to the diffi- 
culty in obtaining meals. 



They continually present themselves at 
school at eleven or twelve o'clock be-' 
cause, being extremely needy people, 
their parents cannot send their child- 
ren to school until they give to them 
the first meal of the day, which they 
cannot do unless they complete a pro- 
duct that they can sell or pawn some 
garment. 



Wlien the Society decided to attract the children to school 
by serving a breakfast of bread and tea, hungry children 
swamped the schools. 

The natural scarcities of the early republican 

decades were not comparable to late-colonial famine cycles 

43 
and deprivations of the wars of independence. In 1830. the 

Ministry of Interior Relations reported a three-year drought 

causing a scarcity of provisions. In 1834 cholera's ravages 

4 4 
among the rural population checked wheat and maize harvests. 

The wheat crop on the plain of Toluca and the Valley of 
Mexico was destroyed by the winter hail of 1842. The scar- 
city continued into 1843; Indian laborers hid from government 

4 5 
press gangs and could not be mustered to harvest the crops. 



139 



The general picture, however, was of re].ative adequacy. Per 
capita consumption was low. In 1843 the Ministry of Industry, 
Agriculture, and Colonization complained: a good harvest de- 
pressed food prices because there was no demand for the sur- 

4 6 
plus. Waddy Thompson reported that food for the lower 

classes was relatively scarce but always sufficient to insure 

survival. Mexico City bakers' boastful threat that the 

capital never experienced a revolution for lack of bread re- 

4 8 
fleeted the availability of food. 

The relative abundance of food never justified Manuel 
Payno's claim that unlike the European worker, the Mexican 
could not be forced to work by the threat of starvation. 
Slow death was the fate of those unable to work, too proud 
to beg, and too honest to steal. Brantz Mayer fed and 
clothed a little beggar boy suffering from tuberculosis. The' 
child sold the first outfit he received to buy food for his 
mother, stricken with rheumatism and unable to feed her 
family for a month. 

Man accomplished what nature failed to do. Revolu- 
tion and inflation caused numerous short but serious famines. 
During the crises the ayuntamiento tried to keep the price 
of food low. It considered, and then abandoned as too expen- 
sive, various schemes to purchase maize for distribution to 
the poor at no cost or at nominal prices. Requests for con- 
tributions drew an unfavorable response from nearby haciendas. 
.As a last resort, the ayuntamiento fixed the price of staples 



140 



at unrealis tically low levels and drove the scarce commodities 
off the market. In 1841 a civil servant vividly described 
how the starving vented their anger and frustration: 



The people will ask for bread and there 
will be no bread to give them. They will 
cry that they are hungry, and they will 
not remain silent or sate their liunger 
because there is no food. Finally they 
will begin to move rabidly, their terrible 
and disorderly masses becoming more vio- 
lent as they rampage to wherever they be- 
lieve they will find food. Nothing will 

be sacred to them and nothing will contain 

Si 
their irresistible force. 



The quality of the food and beverages consumed by the 
poor was dangerously low. The city could not maintain the 
purity of its water supply. The "fat" water from the Chapul- 

tepec aqueduct contained a high content of mud and minerals. 

5 2 
The "thin" water from Santa Fe was relatively clear. During 

the rainy season, the waters of both aqueducts became so 

saturated with impurities that filtration was necessary. Even 

53 
after filtration, it sickened sensitive palates. Throughout 

the year, the smaller aqueducts feeding the central portions 

of the city silted up with mud which transformed the flowing 

54 
current into a miasmic puddle. 

Mud, minerals, and the rainy season were the will of 

God. The people dangerously polluted their own water supply. 

Tanners, wax chandlers, starch makers, and pork butchers 

dumped' wastes into the aqueducts and the portion of the Canal 



141 



de la Viga that served as the water supply for the barrios of 
San Geronimo and Candelaria. The canal was also the receptacle 
for the fi]th that drained from nearby dunghills. Private in- 
dividuals dumped household trash and fecal material into the 
aqueducts, fountains, and canals in which they also bathed. 

The city did little to protect the quality of the 
water. Aesthetic considerations rather than a concern for 
public health motivated efforts to keep aqueduct currents 
flowing. In 1832 the inhabitants of a block in the center of 
the city complained that poisonous gases reeking from a 
stopped-up aqueduct endangered their health. An inspector 
from the Junta de Sanidad confirmed the condition but de- 
clared that it was not dangerous because the residents ap- 
peared to be generally healthy. Although municipal regula- 
tions forbade the dumping of liquid or fresh wastes into 
the aqueducts, the disposal of dry wastes by that method was 
permitted. No regulation effectively prevented the plebe 
from polluting its water supply. 

The germ theory of disease x^as unknown, but many sus- 
pected that drinking the water was linked to disease. In 1851' 
Doctor Isidoro Olivera, a veteran of the choJ.era epidemic of 
1833 and 1850, wrote a study of the disease. He concluded 

that those who drank "fat" water or even "slender" water al- 

5 7 
ways suffered the most. Fifty years Mater a British physi- 
cian in the Indian civil service proved that cholera was 
spawned m and spread by a contaminated water supply.' 



142 



The sale of contaminated food was cominon. Dead fish 
from the aqueducts or the beaches of Vera Cruz found their 
way to the stalls of the central market place. Tanners sold 
the spoiled flesh of pigs and goats or the more palatable 
meat of dogs fattened on maize. Entrails taken from the 

cadavers of scavenger dogs found in the streets appeared in 

59 
the shops as beef or pork tripe. The food sold at the side- 
walk stands and restaurants was no better. A colonial offi- 
cial condemned these small Mexico City eateries which en- 
couraged the poor to 



eat and drink, very often and not at 
regular hours, which irregularity 
greatly influences cleanliness because 
of the natural upsets [attacks of 
diarrhea] that they cannot contain 
upon the moment they occur, without 
asking pardon or any permission. ' 



Over a century later, a correspondent for the Boletin Munici- 
pal reported a more modern reason for the relationship be- 
tween the small restaurants and the "natural upsets" of their 
customers. The sidewalk restaurants in the barrio of Maza- 
nares sold two-or three-day-old food stored in unwashed earth- 
enware crocks and served it with unwashed dishes and spoons. 
The correspondent concluded that the restaurants' food was 
at the root of the digestive disorders that plagued the city. 

Fresh food became contaminated while awaiting sale. 
Sanitary food-handling procedures were unknown. When it 



143 



rained, the poorer merchants of the main market place carried 
on their commerce 



in the mud between fruit peels, feathers, 
tlie remains of fowl, and al ] species of 
offal. Tlie filtli and the pestiJence was 
most notable among the fruit, tamales of 
fisli, frogs, salamanders, etc., and pre- 
served fruit, fat tripe, sweetbreads, 
meat pies, and other indecent and half- 
cooked meats. ^ ^ 



Edibles were further debased after purchase by a customary 
washing in the aqueducts or fountains. 

The food was badly adulterated. People watched milk 
taken directly from the cow to be assured of its purity.^ 
The pulque taken with meals was flavored with bananas, lime, 
nitrate of soda, and unspecified poisons. Although the Junta 
de Sanidad forbade the use of Prussian Blue and other chemical 
dyes to color fruit and pastries, confectioners throughout the 
city sold pastries colored by these substances. No .less an 
authority than the Diccionario de la industria, manufacturera , 
comercio y agricola recommended their use as food colorings. ^ 
Bakers regularly substituted rust for saffron and cromate of 
lead for egg in sweetbreads that the poor ate for breakfast. 
Flagrant adulteration prompted the creation of the Junta de 
Sanidad . 

Mexico City's homes were often solid, two-or three- 
story buildings of porphry or porous amygdaloid. Green, 



144 



light blue, orange, crimson, or distemper white exteriors 
bestowed moods that were bright and gay. A thick, wooden 
door was the only access from the street to a large central 
patio. Across the patio, a staircase led to corridors and 
interior porticoes. The houses of the wealthy were quite 
spacious. Fanny Calderon de la Barca's house provides an 
example. The ground floor of her home resembled a small 
village. Twenty rooms that accommodated servant quarters 
and storerooms surrounded a patio graced by two fountains 
and a garden. The upper floor contained the kitchen, the 
owner's private chambers, and dining and drawing rooms. 
These chambers were large and well furnished. The drawing 
room of the Countess de Cortina contained cabinets inlaid 
with gold, "hundreds of rich and curious things," and an 
imported English piano. The flat roof served as an attractive 
balcony and might be planted in a garden. An uncomfortable 
dampness marred the luxury. During the rainy season, water 
poured through the ground-floor windows and under the front 
door, imparting the flooded appearance of "a crossbreed be- 

6 9 

tween a palace and a barn. " 

Table 16 lists the mean rents of the six most common 
dwellings encountered on the sample survey. Large, well- 
built houses were expensive. One advertised in Siglo Diez y 

7 
Nueve cost $6,800. The mean rent for the random sample of ■ 

1848 was $40 monthly, or $480 annually. A suitable resi- 
dence for a member of the diplomatic corps might rent for 



145 



$500 to $2,500 annually. American diplomats considered 

these rents to be incredibly high, at least three times 

7 "J 
those of New York. 

The middle class lived in viviendas (apartments) in 

the more substantial casas de vecindad . If the vecindad 

contained two floors, apartments were upstairs and the 

7 2 
single rooms or servant quarters downstairs. The prefer- 
ence of the middle class for the dry, upper floors caused 

73 
vertical social- stratification within the vecindad . For 

example, the upper floor of a vecindad on Manzana 138 con- 
tained three apartments renting for $6,4 in which fourteen 
inhabitants resided. The ground floor contained fifteen 

rooms renting for $2. Forty-four persons occupied the ten 

7 4 
rented rooms. If the casa de vecindad had one story, then 

7 5 
an elegant apartment Xvfas likely to be in the front. The 

mean rent of the 175 apartments of the random sample was $18 

monthly, or $2].6 annually. 

Apartments were spacious and comfortable. Guillermo 

Prieto gave us a charming portrait of a middle-class dwelling. 

A steep stairway led to a corridor paved with red varnished 

millstones. The corridor was embellished with cages filled 

with stuffed birds and squirrels, wind chimes, and earthen 

crocks packed with stored foods and vegetables. Landscapes 

of the Paseo de la Viga or Chapultepec hill adorned its 

walls. Comfortable chairs and couches of tule painted coffee 

and green furnished the principal chamber. Cuspidors occupied 



146 



its corners, and a large brazier for cigarettes and heat 
stood on the floor. In the bedroom were a large bed of fine 
wood, easy chairs, and wardrobes. The small children of a 
large family slept in the halls. Those of a small family 
slept with their parents in curtained compartments of the 
main bedroom. The dining room contained a washstand holding 
towels, soap, straw, and a scouring stone for scrubbing. 
Colored vegetables, pots and pans, and jars lined the 
kitchen walls yet further festooned with strips of garlic 

and pepper for a festive air. A huge barrel of water stood 

76 
m xts center. 

The dwellings of the poor were considerably less sub- 
stantial. The jacal or shack of sun-dried brick faced with 
adobe accounted for 3.4 percent of the habitations in ■ the 

77 ■ ' 

survey. Location in poor barrios probably resulted in 

7 8 

underrepresentation on the census of 1849. The jacal was 
often a solitary unit; occasionally groups of them were 
arranged around a central patio and enclosed by a corral or 
wall. The mean rent of the jacales was $1,7 a month. 

The most common type of lower-class habitation was 
the rented room or accesoria within the casa de vecindad . 
Single rooms and accesorias were over 60 percent of the habi- 
tations listed on the sample. The accesoria fronted the 
street, but most rooms opened onto a large central patio. 
Not all accesorias were habitations of the humble. Judging 
from their rents, some housed large stores or were apartments 



147 



of more than one room. The mean rent of the accesorias was 
$8; that of the room, $2. 

The design of the vecindad originated in the late 
eighteenth century when the owners of large private houses 
divided the spacious interior apartments into small rooms 
and rented them to an expanding population. Vecindad de- 
sign parodied that of the wealthier homes. Tlie poor man's 

O A 

vecindad was a one-story building in the barrios. Typical 
vecindades listed on the census of 1849 contained fifteen or 

twenty rooms; some grouped as many as fifty rooms about two 

, . 81 ■ 
or three patios. A humbJe vecindad of two stories might 

rent sleeping space on the ground floor. , George Ruxton 
visited one such flophouse where the poor of both sexes 
slept on the muddy earthen floor, rolled in their serapes.*^^ 
Sleeping space rented from one-eighth to one-quarter real a 
night. A small fountain standing in the middle of the 
patio served as the source of drinking water, washtub, and 
laundry. 

The annual rent of a room came to no more than 15 
percent of an artisans annual income. Many, however, could 
not afford it. Anne Staples concluded in her examination 
of convent-owned housing that much of the convents' poverty 
was due to the inability of the tenants to pay their rents. 
Although the nuns needed the rent desperately, only pressure 
from the archbishop could force the tenderhearted sisters 
to turn the delinquent tenants out into the streets . ^ '"', 



Ul 



Dr. Staple's research is confirmed by the account books of 
the houses owned by the Cofradia of the Santisimo Sacramento 
y Soledad de Nuestra Senora. One of its vecindades contained 
twenty-four habitations whose rents ranged from $1.50 to $3.00 
a month. Each room rented for an average of 1.7 times a year. 
All but five of the tenants eventually fell in arrears. All 
debtors vacated owing sums ranging from $4,4 to $18. Only 
a female weaver owing $18 attempted to repay the debt. She 
pawned her loom for $15 and turned the sum over to the land- 
lord. The casera displayed great flexibility, collecting 
rents by the week, by the month, or whenever the tenants 
could pay a small installment on their debt. No evictions 
appear, but the account book may not have distinguished among 

those who fled, those who vacated legitimately, and those 

8 6 
who suffered eviction. Shrewd caseras in other vecindades 

collected rents by the week to prevent the accumulation of 

large arrears. 

Many Mexicans slept in the streets. In 1324 Joel 

Poinsett estimated that as many as 20,000 slept "beneath 

O Q 

the dosel of heaven." Others lived in the ruins that 
abounded in the city. Thanks to the bravery of two census 
takers, a few of the ruins appear on the census of 1849; 
however, because of their unsavory reputations as the haunts 

of thieves and cutthroats, they were probably underrepre- 

, 89 
sented. 



149 



Those who lived in the ruins endured "miserable, sub- 
terranean conditions," exposed to the elements and risking 

9 
death from collapsing walls or the fever. Other habita- 
tions were no less run down. The shacks weathered into the 

9 1 
shapes ol: holes in the mud. The census taker of Manzana 

180 on the eastern fringes of the city appended his returns 

with this note: 



This is to serve notice that the shacks 
listed on this block are not of impor- 
tance, but of adobe and mud, the greater 
part without cement, unpaved earthen 
floors; some have roofs of pebbles with- 
out any frame. , For the expressed reasons, 
one encounters some of very low value and 
some that are v;orthless .'" 



Greedy landlords neglected to repair or pave the 

93 
ground floors of vecindades .' One eleven-room vecindad of 

Necatitlan contained four unoccupied rooms in ruins. The 
seven remaining were occupied but were probably in an equally 
ruinous condition. 

Tlie interior of the houses were filthy. Trash en- 
closed the fountain, cluttered the stairways, and covered 
the floors of lower rooms whose "ant-like inhabitants lacked 
the slightest trace of cleanliness." Constant dampness 
created its own problems and intensified those associated 
with the filth. The unpaved ground-floor rooms were below 
street level. Throughout the year, ground water seeping into 



150 



9 5 
the rooms created an atmosphere of "pure humidity." During 

the rainy season, water pouring in from the unpaved streets 

or seeping up s].owly through the unpaved floor buried the 

97 
rooms in a foul concoction of mud, garbage, and human feces. 

At such ti.mes the houses were abandoned, their former inhabi- 
tants augmenting the numbers of street dwellers in the drier 

98 
portions of the city. In 1903 a newspaper reporter wondered 

how human beings could exist in the crumbling, substreet-level 

9 9 
accesorias surviving m the southern barrios. 

The concentration of so large a population within a 
very small area in a city whose largest dwellings were three 
stories high produced a considerable degree of crowding. Al- 
though the census of 1849 shows vacancy rates nearing 50 per- 
cent in some vecindades , the vacancies were likely attributable 

1 00 
to absent or uncooperative tenants. Residents and visitors 

reported lower-class dwellings crammed with people. Amazed 

by the "small villages" contained within the vecindades , 

Thompson wondered why the large open spaces of the city re- 

1 1 
mamed undeveloped. Married couples rented living space 

10 2 
on stairwell landings or in the corners of occupied rooms. 

In the cheerless, gray vecindades of the southeastern barrios, 

tiny rooms enclosed entire families and everything necessary 

"10 3 

to sustain life in "a suffocating and lethal atmosphere." 
Even the more prosperous artisans lived under crowded condi- 
tions. The two-room flat of the wax sculptor visited by 
Brantz Mayer possessed one room "large enough to turn around 



151 



in that "served as bedroom for the sculptor, his wife, and 
"two or three children." The other room, equally small, was 

I 4 

a v^orkshop and contained a small furnace. Privacy, es- 
pecially where rooms interconnected by corridors, was an 

., . , . 105 
impossibility. Miguel Macedo complained that because 

the area around the patio was so crowded with occupants per- 
forming the most intimate personal and household chores, the 

children, women, and household servants lived in "slightly 

,,106 
decent promiscuity." Conditions in houses that rented 

sleeping space were worse. Small one-room houses on Man- 

zana 41 held from nine to eighteen tenants — all single men.'"'' 

On the ground floor that Ruxton visited, men and women slept 

shoulder to shoulder. Those who avoided the expense of 

rent by sleeping in the ruins did not avoid crowding. On 

Manzana 168 a street peddler and his family of eight huddled 

together in the one habitable room of an abandoned vecindad. "^ 

The educated recognized that lower-class housing was ■ 

unhealthy. They held the continual dampness of ground-floor 



ro 



cms responsible for the fevers that kept the population 



C J - .'110 

from reproducing itself. The dampness, filth, and crowd- 
ing of the vecindades made its inhabitants the "greatest 
nourishment of the epidemics, increasing and increasing the 
numbers of its victims."' Residence in filthy, dark, and 
poorly ventilated ground-floor rooms wa,s a main factor in 
the vulnerability to cholera. " Guillermo Prieto visited 
a thirty-room vecindad in the barrio of Lagunilla. The 
inhabitants had all been slaughtered by cholera. 



152 



In 1832 a public-spirited citizen suggested the govern- 
ment force landlords to repair properties in the interests of 

114 

public health. In 1849 tlie governor of the Distrito 
Federal contemplated similar action to forestall an expected 
outbreak of cholera. He was dissuaded by the ayuntamientO' 
who reasoned very properly that the law would be a dead letter. 
The only housing action that the government ever enforced was 
a repainting of all houses after the cholera epidemic of 1833. 

The environs of Mexico City embraced further dangers 
and discomforts. Fire menaced the city. After a series of 
tragic fires in 1838, the city considered seriously the re- 
moval of crucifixes from church steeples and convents because 

117 
they acted as lightening rods. Guillermo Prieto recalled 

flames which swept Mexico City in 1850 accompanied by wide- 

spread looting. 

The cramped houses literally spilled their occupants 

into the streets. Obstruction of the broad avenues reflected 

the competition for space. Artisans and merchants blocked 

1 1 9 
traffic by placing their wares and furniture in the streets. 

Within the barrios, mestizos and Indians of "low condition" 

12 

built shacks in the middle of thoroughfares. "Embroils of 
alleys, these remnants of habitable construction, of exitless 

1 2 1 

quagmires" pierced the heart of the city.' Because the clogged 

streets blocked passage of the larger horse-drawn vehicles, 

J 9 2 

the cargador commonly transported bulk freight. " Thompson 

reported an uncomfortable feeling of crowdedness as he 

12 3 

Strolled through the central areas of the city. 



153 



TABLE 15 
PRICE OF miZE AND BEANS 



Maize Beans ^ 

Year , . . v Source 

(per carga) (per carga) 



Ward . 

AACM, to mo 29 3. 

AACM, tomo 36 76, exp . 

4. 

AACM, tomo 2279, p. 98. 

AACM, tomo 2266, exp. 

60. 

"Precios de necesidades 

primarias," Monitor Re- 

publicano, 29 mayo 1848, 

p. 4. 

1851 7 9 Ayuntamiento de Mexico, 

Memorla de 1851 (Mexico, 
D.F., 1851). 

1852 4 9 Almonte. 



1827 


$5 




1832 


8 


$10 


1833 


6 


10 


1841 


8 


0,4 

(per almud) 


1847 


7 


10 


1848 


5 


8: 



NOTE: One carga = 250 lbs, 



TABLE 16 
RESIDENCE AND MEAN RENTS 



Residence Number Percentage Mean Rent per Month 

18 $40 

47 2 

15 8 

14 18 

2 20 

3 2 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author for the sample 
survey from the census of 1849, AACM, tomo 3406. 



House 


235 


Room 


629 


Acessoria 


197 


Vivienda 


195 


Entresuelo 


24 


Jacal 


46 



154 



TABLE 17 

EPIDEMIC OF MEASLES AND DYSENTERY 

IN THE SAGRARIO AND SAN SEBASTIAN, 1847 



Mo'n th 


Sagrario 


San Sebastian 


San 


Pablo 




Births 


Deaths 


Births 


Deaths 


Births 


Deaths 


Jan. 


136 


94 


62 


39 


51 


20 


Feb . 


101 


84 


33 


28 


44 


16 


Mar. 


85 


69 


65 


48 


49 


10 


Apr. 


135 


81 


33 


35 


58 


17 


EPIDEMIC 


BEGINS 












May 


119 


104 


37 


43 


47 


18 


June 


143 


150 


15 


42 


41 


26 


July 


119 


139 


8 


32 


51- 


38 


Aug . 


146 


116 


51 


107 


40 


25 ■ 


Sept. 


106 


150 


38 


72 


40 


32 


Oct. 


103 


121 


40 


44 


47 


19 


Nov. 


104 


88 


3 7 


30 


43 


17 


Dec. 


108 


132 


30 


43 


30 


21 


SOURCE: 


AACM, t 


omo 727. 


exns . 1- 


1 5. 







TABLE 18 
SCARLET FEVER VICTIMS, SAGRARIO, 1844 



Age 


No. 




Months 


in Which 


Victims 


Died 




0-4 


24 


Jan. 





May 


6 


Sept. 


3 


5-9 


12 


Feb. 


4 


June 


10 


Oct. 





10-14 


2 


Mar . 


1 


July 


3 


Nov. 


5 


15+ 


11 


Apr. 


12 


Aug. 


1 


Dec. 


4 


Tota. 


1 49 












City 


total 180 













SOURCE: AACM, tomo 725, exp . 16. 



155 



TABLE 19 

PERCENTAGE OF IMMIGRANTS 

IN NECATITLAN, SAN SALVADOR EL SECO, 

AND TliE SAMl^LE mLE POPULATION 





Age 






San Salvador 


Sample Male 


Bracket 


Necatitlan 


el S e c 


Population^ 


15-19 








16 


20-24 


M 


20 


35 




20-24 


F 


30 


40 




20-29 








26 


25-29 


M 


45 


30 




25-29 


F 


40 


50 




30-39 








■ 31 


30-34 


M 


30 


65 




30-34 


F 


30 


50 




35-39 


M 


45 


40 




35-39 


F 


45 


45 




40-49 








29 


40-44 


M 


30 


50 




40-44 


F 


35 


55 




50-59 








28 



SOURCE: For the sample male population, the census of 1849, 
AACM, tomo 3406. For Necatitlan and San Salvador el Seco, 
AACM, tomos 3409 and 3413. 



a„ 



Total sample male population = 1364. 



TABLE 20 
DEPENDENCY RATIOS 



Youth 



Aged 



Total 



Necatitlan 

San Salvador el Seco 

Manzana 97 



32 
58 
70 



13 


46 


4 


62 


5 


75 



SOURCE: AACM, tomos 3409, 3413, 3411. 



156 



TABLE 21 
LEGITIMATE/ILLEGITIMATE BIRTHS 





Parish 


Year 


Total 
Births 


Illegitimate 
Births 


Percent 


San Pablo 


1830 


566 


103 


18 


San Miguel 


1830 


270 


72 


27 


San Sebastian 


1830 


317 


67 


21 


San Pablo 


1834 


609 


136 


22 


Sagrario 


1838 


385 


82 


21 


San Sebastian 


1842 


358 


104 


29 


San Jose 


1842 


511 


167 


33 


San Pablo 


1842 


592 


104 


18 



SOURCE: Mexico City, Filmoteca del Institute de Geneologica 
y Heraldia, rollos 310, 311, 976, 993, 997, 1003, 1550, 1551. 



TABLE 2 2 
CROSSTABULATION OF AGE AT Mf\RRIAGE WITH MEAN RENT 



Age at 


Mean 


Age at 


Mean 


Marriage 


Rent 


Marriage 


Rent 


16 


5 1 


29 


$10 


17 


2 


30 


7 


18 


3 


31 


16 


19 


2 


32 


5 


20 


10 


33 


13 


■ 21 


4 


35 


7 


23 


5 


36 


8 


24 


10 


37 


11 


25 


6 


38 


20 


27 


10 


39 


22 


28 


33 


40 


6 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author for the random 
sample from the census of 1849, AACM, tomo 3406. 



157 



TABLE 23 
CROSSTABULATION OF HOUSEHOLD SIZE WITH MEAN RENT 



Household Size Mean Rent 

1 $ 8 

2 8 

3 7 
• 4 ■ . 10 

5 11 

6 , 10 

7 17 

8 26 

9 18 
10 24 



SOURCE: Compiled and •computed by the author from the census 
of 1849, AACM, tomo 3406. 



158 



The unpaved and undrained streets substituted for 

. . 124 

privies and trash dumps. Piles of refuse lay in the 

middle of streets and leaned against the sides of houses. ^ 

Pigs roamed the streets, spreading offal throughout entire 

neighborhoods. Eventually the trash accumulated' into mula- 

dores (huge piles), deposited in the plazas and sometimes 

at large intersections. The obstructions created by the 

mounds became so ominous that a concerned parish priest 

suggested that vacant lots be legally designated as dumps 

, - - 126 
and privies. 

The inefficiency of trash collectors made the giant 
mulador a permanent eyesore. Contractors responsible for 
carting the trash from the city defaulted with regularity, 

19 7 

and the muladores multiplied in size and number. " In 1841 a 
private citizen complained to Siglo Diez y Nueve that the 
muladores were the size of small mountains and seriously 
impeded the flow of traffic. " During four months in 1846 
when the collectors were not operating, the total number 
withm the city grew from thirteen to twenty-eight. 
Zangas (drains) dug from the muladores to nearby canals or 
the central gutter of each street added to the impediments 
of trattic and general squalor. 

Because of filthy streets, a stroll in any part of 
the city endangered one's health. ' The educated acknowl- 
edged a relationship between the muladores and unspecified 
fevers, scarlet fever, and cholera but were unsure of the 



159 



13 2 

specifics. One doctor argued before the ayuntamiento 
that although the gases produced by the trash might cause 
fevers, trash strewn in the streets dried too fast to be a risk to 
hazard public health. The ayuntamiento remained uncon- 
vinced. After rejecting burning as a method of trash dis- 
posal, it decided to dump the trash into Lake Texcoco, an 
important source of municipal drinking water. 

Streets with no pavement and inadequate drainage 

supplemented the oppressive circumstances. The rains of 

13 4 
late summer collected in putrid puddles. When flooding 

occurred, thoroughfares became impassable. The Traza's 

13 5 
residents bridged streets with long wooden planks. In 

the southern barrios, canoes replaced feet as the principal 

means of transportation. The polluted waters of Lake 

Texcoco vengefully redistributed the filth throughout the 

.136 
fringe barrios. 

Polluted air assailed the most insensitive nostrils. 

In the heart of the city, the fumes of burning cacao and 

chile, wafting from respectable houses of commerce', burned 

the eyes of well-to-do residents. The stench rising from 

animal wastes carelessly strewn around the shops of butchers, 

candle makers , and tanners contaminated tVie atmosphere of 

entire neighborhoods. Foul odors from stopped-up aqueducts 

13 7 
or filthy central gutters were constant sources of complaint. 

The frightful conditions of the barrio molded a man's 

138 . . 
appearance. Foreign visitors v/rote of the miserable, 



160 



downcast" look of the populace. Brantz Mayer, never at a 
loss for a descriptive phrase, called the poor "dismounted 
witches" and proceeded to justify his hyperbole: 



Blacken a man in the sun; let his hair 
grow long and tangled or become filJ.ed 
with vermin; let him plod about the 
streets in all kinds of dirt for years 
and never know the use of brush or 
towel or water even, except in storms; 
let him put on a pair of leather 
breeches at twenty and wear them until 
forty without change or ablution, and 
over all, place a tan and blackened 
hat and a tattered, blanket begrimed 
with abominations; let him have wild 
eyes and shining teeth and features 
pinched by famine into sharpness, 
breasts bared and browned, and (if fe- 
males) with two or three miniatures of 
the same species trotting after her and 
another certainly strapped to her back. 
Combine all these in your imagination, 
and you have a reci])e for a Mexican 

1 ■' 13 9 

1 epero . 



Health 



In spite of these and other peculiari- 
ties that have been discussed concern- 
ing the notorious fecundity of the pro- 
ductive castes, one finds that the 
Kingdom is not so populated as it should 
be. . . , because of the misery in which 
the plebe generally live, the lamentable 
vices of their education , the famines 
and plagues that make a growing number 
of persons disappear . 



-Francisco Norriaga, 1813 



161 



The wretched health of the population is clearly 

reflected by the records of the "Ranio de Demografia" in 

1 40 
the Archive del Ayuntamiento de la Ciudad de Mexico. 

The records inclAide transcripts of the causes of deaths 
listed on the hospital and paris?i registers. Many of 
the diseases noted on the registers — for example , 
pneumonia, measles, and scarlet fever — are readily recog- 
nizable to the modern reader. Others describe symptoms 
of disease rather than modern diseases. Fiebre con- 

tinuosa , for example, is a variety fever that appears 

1 41 
m cases of typhoid and paratyphoid. Fortunately, 

older medical dictionaries may correlate the archaic 

disease with its modern equivalent, and the modern. 

reader is given a clue to the actual cause of death. 

The records reveal a veritable slaughter of the 

inf-ants. Tables I-l through 1-3 are mortality tables of 

ages at death during the years 1842, 1844, and 1850. 

In 1842 and 1844 approximately 36 percent of the city's 

total number of recorded deaths were children under three 

years of age. Thirty-eight percent of all deaths occurred 

below the age of ten in 1850. Because the death of an 

unbaptized infant remained uncounted, the parish registers 

1 42 
underrepresent the real infant mortality rate. The num- 
bers of deaths in the late-childhood and early-adolescent 
years were quite low. The percentages grew markedly in the 



162 



adult age brackets and fluctuated between 8 and .14 percent 
until the sixty-year age bracket when the percentages began 
to decline. 

Infectious diseases of the digestive and respiratory 
systems slew the population. Table J-1 depicts the causes 
of deatli for the entire city in 1842 and 1844. Many were 
specific to particular ages, sexes, and occupations. Table 
J-2 depicts the cause of death for children under ten years 
in the Sagrario. Alferecia , the convulsions produced by 
high fevers resulting from infection, carried off the 
greatest percentage (17 percent). Dysentery (11 percent), 
strokes (10 percent) , whooping cough (10 percent) , and dis- 
orders of the stomach (7 percent) followed. Together the 
five diseases accounted for 65 percent of child deaths below 
the age of ten. 

Table J-2 shows the causes of death in the Sagrario 
for individuals over age ten. Six diseases produced over 
50 percent of the fatalities. Pneumonia, the largest killer, 
accounted for 20 percent of the total number of deaths. 
Hydropesia (dropsy) , the immediate result of a stoppage of 
circulation produced by pregnancy, hormone deficiencies, or 
kidney failure, caused 13 percent of the fatalities. Dysen- 
tery, continuous fever (probably typhoid or paratyphoid) , 
and oostado, a respiratory disorder produced by a number of 
modern diseases, were the next most common fatal diseases. 
Continuous fever attacked children and young adults. Pneumonia 



163 



scourged the aged. Tuberculosis was prevalent among males. 
Women were the prey of dropsy. Deaths attributable to 
childbirth accounted for less than 1 percent of the total 
number of female deaths. 

Specific occupations produced specific diseases. 
Gilders and go.ld workers developed the universal tremors 
of mercury poisoning. Baking was a particularly unhealthy 
occupation. Excessive drinking of aguardiente and cold 
water by thirsty bakers produced disorders of the stomach. 

Flour in the air inflamed the eyes, and flour-dust inhala- 

1 , 14 3 

tion led to consumption. Persons in trades that re- 
quired exposure to the elements or submergence in water 

144 
were particularly vulnerable to cholera. 

The tolerant official attitude toward disease shocks 
the modern mind. In 1839 the Junta de Sanidad decided that 
to declare a smallpox epidemic would create undue alarm be- 
cause in' the preceding month only three people in the Sa- 

145 
grario had succumbed to the disease. Diseases like 

smallpox, scarlet fever, measles, typhoid, and cholera were 

endemic and did not necessarily alarm the population. Table 

17 shows the course of an outbreak of measles and diarrhea 

occurring in the adjoining parishes of the Sagrario and San 

Sebastian that left the southwestern barrio of San Pablo 

unscathed. At any time, however, the diseases could explode 

into truly monstrous epidemics. An outbreak of smallpox in 

1840 carried off 2,878 children and scarred countless others. 



164 



Cholera was the largest killer. The epidemic of 1833 
sickened 37,863 and killed 5,822. The death toll, however, 
was substantially greater because the official count did 
not include those who died in the hospitals and in several 
populous barrios. Cholera's second visit to Mexico City 

in 1850 produced 6,688 recorded deaths, but the actual total 

14 8 
may have reached 9,000. 

^ . Children, particularly infants, were vulnerable to 
the epidemics. Childhood diseases were always the most 
likely to reach serious proportions. The toll of the 1840 
smallpox epidemic has already been cited. Table 18 illus- 
trates the ravages of scarlet fever among the children of 

the Sagrario in 1844. Cholera always produced its greafest 

149 
fatalities among the infants. 

Disease to'ok its greatest toll from among the poor. 

In 1824 Edward Thornton wrote that an outbreak of measles 

among the lower classes was the chief topic of upper-class 

150 
conversation. Dr. Olivera wrote of two cholera epidemics. 

that the "clase infeliz" always suffered the most. ' His 

statement is supported by the historian Miceto Zamacois 

and the diarist Jose Ramon Ma].o, who also survived the two 

15 2 

epidemics. The incidence of cholera among the poor of 
Mexico'City, however, was not nearly so shocking as it was 
among the urban proletariat of Europe. " The cities of nineteenth- 
century Europe were ghettoized by the early Industrial Revolu- 
tion. The incidence of the 1833 epidemic among the Parisian 



165 



poor was so marked that they thought the disease was a plot 

1 5 3 
by the rich to poison them. Cholera's European incur- 
sions produced a continent-wide movement to reform municipal 

... . , . .154 
administration and sanitation. In closely packed Mexico 

City, the disease took its toll of all who did not flee. 

Guillermo Prieto wrote of the ravages of the disease among 

1 5 5 
the middle classes. Malo recorded that although the 

cholera attack of 1850 ran rampant among the poor, the 
disease also attacked the wealthy. The most prominent vic- 
tim of that epidemic was Manuel Payno, po.litician and 

1 5 6 
essayist. 

Tables K-1 and K-2 show the periodicity of pneumonia 
and dysentery. Pneumonia was a disease of the winter and 
early spring. Dysentery came with the summer rainy season 
but could also break out in the winter. Diarrhea also 
followed this pattern. The summer rains always carried 
measles and cholera. The overall monthly death rate appear- 
ing in Table K-3 shows no marked seasonal pattern. 

Infectious diseases that slaughtered the population 
were an indictment of the living conditions. As the ayunta- 
miento and others suspected, cholera, typhoid, smallpox, and 
a host of other diseases were bred in the damp filth or 
stagnant waters and attacked an inadequately clothed and 
sheltered population. Malnourishment increased the poor's 
vulnerability to disease. Lack of milk, a condition often 
caused by malnourishment of nursing mothers, caused 6 percent 



166 



of all infant (1 day to 12 months) deaths in the Sagrario in 

1 5 7 
1842. Dropsy also may be caused by malnourishment , es- 
pecially during pregnancy. Epidemiologists and bacteriolo- 
gists attribute the presence of typhoid and pneumonia con- 
tinually and on a large scale in any population to chronic 
malnourishment. For example: 



In the ghetto of Lodz during World War 
11, there existed an evident relation- 
ship between hunger and infection. 
Weakness brought on a cold; a cold 
brought on pneumonia; then followed a 
funeral. A scratch led to infection 
and death.' ^^ 



Disease deformed the poor. Mayer observed that de- 
ls 9 
formities, blindness, and sores were capital. Poinsett 

thought them the results of intemperance, smallpox, typhus, 

scarlet fever, and the putrid enfermedades of the throat. 

The bizarre inhabitants of the barrios were 



skeletal types, cadaverous examples of 
disinterred corpses, anomalous and 
terrible . . . , who left far behind 
the court of miracles illuminated with 
frightful light by the pen of Victor 
Hugo. 



Guillermo Prieto s£ 



the open sore, the walking mummy. And 
deformed like humpbacks, contorted in 



167 



the faces, bandy-legged, and epileptic. 

The men were like domino pieces of 
six and blank, bax"e skin above and 
cotton pants belov/; the women with a 
short woolen sliawl floating over the 
breast and shoulder and wrapped about 
in a long cloth. Pull it back, and 
you make the wearer spin like a top.^^'i 



Demography 

The materials available for the study of Mexico City's 
demography at the Archivo del Ayuntamiento de la Ciudad de 
Mexico are sparse and inaccurate. The "Ramo de Padrones" 

contains the municipal censuses of 1842, 1849, and fragments 

1 6 2 
of tfie xndustrial census of 1850. Although the best 

material available for the study of household size, composi- 
tion, and fertility, they drastically undercounted the popu- 
lation. Males, fearing the census taker to be the harbinger 

of the tax collector or the press gang, were particularly 

,,163 
under rep res en ted. 

The "Ramo de Demografia" contains transcripts of 

parish and hospital registers covering the years 1840, 1842, 

15 4 

1844, 1847, 1848, and 1850. The transcripts appear to 
be complete and well analyzed, but they too are inaccurate. 
The parish registers underrepresent infant deaths because 
priests did not record the deaths of unbaptized infants. 
Many adult deaths also do not appear on the registers. 



168 



After 1833 the city periodically forbade burials in parish 

. , . , 16 6 

cemeteries withm the garitas . Enacted to preserve the 

public health, the measure affected the accuracy of the 
parish registers. The poor, avoiding the expense and bother 
of burial in the municipal cemeteries, placed their dead in 
secret cemeteries southwest of the city. ' It is possible 
that smaller-parish priests, financially dependent upon burial 
fees, conducted secret burials in their own cemeteries. 

The age-sex characteristics of the population of 
Mexico City in 1849 reveal the play of natural and social 
forces. The procedure used to sample the census of 1849 
does not allow the construction of an accurate population 
pyramid. It was possible, however, to construct population 
tables for the barrios of Necatitlan (Manzana 57) and San 
Salvador el Seco (Manzana 60) . Bearing in mind that the 
populations of the barrios came and went as they pleased, 
their characteristics will be assumed to indicate city-wide 
patterns. Wherever possible, supplementary material will 
be added to support or disprove the observations. 

The population was mature. Appendix L contains pop- 
ulation tables on Necatitlan and San Salvador el Seco. They 
show that only 33 and 41 percent of the respective popu- 
lations were below the age of twenty. The percentages 
approximate those of several other blocks listed on the 
census of 1842. In the twentieth century, similar 



169 



percentages would be found in nations experiencing declining 

1 6 9 
birthrates. In nineteenth-century Mexico City, the birth- 
rates were undoubted]. y high, but so too was infant mortality. 
For example, the glaring shortages of young people in the 
fif teen-to-nineteen-year. age brackets of both barrios 
probably reflects in part the ravages of cholera upon the 
infant population of 1833. The shortages of children in the 
ten-to-nineteen-year brackets suggest that the tumultuous 
years following 1829 levied a high toll upon the capital's 
children. Immigration further reduced the percentages of 
adolescents in the barrios by fleshing out the adult age 
brackets. The majority of migrants were young adults in 
their twenties and thirties as shown by Appendix L. Table 
19 illustrates that over 50 percent of the members of some 
adult age brackets were migrants. The percentages of immi- 
grants among the sample male population were smaller, but 
still substantial. 

The tables of Appendix L show that the median age 

of both barrios was twenty-five. Modern Chile and India 

. . 17 

possess similar median ages. Only 10 percent of the 

populations were older than forty-five. Less than 8 percent 
of the sample of adult males were age forty-five or over. 
The low median age and the lack of oldsters in the popula- 
tion suggest very short life expectancies among the sur- 
vivors of infancy. 



170 



The dependency ratio measures the number of econom- 
ically unproductive persons per hundred of the economically 
productive. It is the sum of two component ratios: the 
youth dependency ratio and the age dependency ratio. Both 
are derived by dividing the number of those under the age 
of fifteen and those over the age of fifty-nine by the 
number of individuals in the fifteen-to-fifty-nine-year age 
bracket. Table 20 lists the dependency ratios of the two 
barrios and one manzana for which data exist. They are 
surprisingly small. For example, Necatitlan's ratio is 
lower than that of any modern nation. San Salvador el Seco's 
ratio equals that of modern Italy. All bear a closer 
resemblence to the poorer modernized nations of Europe, 
Latin America, and North America than to the undeveloped 
nations of the world. In the modern, world extremely high 
dependency ratios signify that the producers of developing 
nations must devote a large portion of their labor to the 

feeding of unproductive mouths rather than to the produc- 

17 1 
tion of an economic surplus. The relatively low depen- 
dency ratios of nineteenth-century Mexico City suggest that 
prior to the advent of modern medicine and sanitation, nature 
kept a rough balance between producers and consumers. 

According to the census of 1842, 55 percent of the 

1 7 9 

population were female. In 1849 the percentages of fe- 
males in Necatitlan and San Salvador el Seen were 56 and 57. 
The sex ratio, or number of males per hundred females, is 



171 



derived by dividing the number of males into the number of 
females. In a population with an equal number of females, 
the sex ratio is 100; with more males than females, it is 
over 100; with less males than females, it is less than 100. 
The ratios of the city and the two barrios were 83, 85, and 
75 respectively. 

In the modern age, a sex ratio of below 90 indicates 
that a war or similar catastrophe has wasted the male popu- 
lation. For example, the 1950 sex ratios for the Soviet 

1 73 
Union and East Germany were 80 and 82. Mexico City's 

males had provided the manpower of many a revolutionary 
army and had recently waged a bloody and unsuccessful de- 
fense of the capital against the North Americans. It is 
reasonable to assume that the low sex ratios existing in' 
nineteenth-century Mexico City were the results of war 
losses. Twenty-seven and 18 percent of the widows of the 
two barrios were below the age of thirty suggesting that 
their military-aged husbands had died in battle. The 
population tables, however, fail to support the war-loss 
hypothesis. The male deficit is almost totally explained 
by their absence from the f if teen-to-nineteen age brackets. 
One explanation for the missing adolescents was that they 
were performing apprenticeships in other parts of the city. 
Because of the errors inherent in constructing population 
tables of the barrios, the latter observation hardly in-' - 
validates the war-loss hypothesis. 



172 



Sixty and 62 percent of the migrants in Necatitlan 
and San Salvador el Seco were female. They were particularly 
numerous in the twenty-to-twenty-nine age brackets. Their 
numerical superiority may be explained by the hypothesis 
that more employment opportunities existed for single women 
and widows in Mexico City than in the surrounding Distrito 
Federal and states. Tvto possible reasons exist for their . 
youthfulness. The normal tendency was for younger wives 
to accompany their older husbands to the city. Also, 
lacking an apprenticeship to complete, single women left . - 
home at earlier ages than did males. 

Marriages were of two types: legal ones sanctified 
by a formal church wedding and permanent liaisons having no 
legal standing. Appendix M illustrates the tendency, normal 
in Latin Catholic countries, for church weddings to be 
deferred until just before or just after Christmas and 
Easter. It is unlikely that many of the poor followed this 
pattern. An idea of the number of poor who chose to save 
the expense of a wedding by living in sin is provided by 
the percentages of illegitimate children baptized in parishes 
that maintained separate registers for legitimate and ille- 
gitimate births. Table 21 shows that the percentages of ille- 
gitimate births in these parishes averaged over 25 percent 
and in one instance rose to 33 percent.- Because parishes 
maintained the separate registers contrary to law and public 
sentiment, many more illegitimate births entered the registers 
as legitimate. 



173 



Most Mexicans married or established permanent 
liaisons during their lifetimes. Seventy-eight percent 
of the random sample of adult males listed their civil 
status as married or widowed. The actual percentage was 
higher because the sample probably included an unduly large 
portion of v/ealthy young bachelors living at home and un- 
married ecclesiastics. In Necatitlan and San Salvador el 
Seco, the percentages of married or widowed males over 
twenty years of age were 81 percent and 91 percent respectively. 
Eighty-three and 91 percent of the females over the age of 
twenty were either married or widowed. Because of the nu- , 
me'rical superiority of females over males in the adult age 
braclcets, it is likely that women x-zho did not marry during 
their youth stayed unmarried for their entire lives. A 
large number of single adult females in the two barrios were 
over the age of thirty, while almosf all single males over 
the age of twenty were in their early twenties. ^ 

In the Sagrario, Mexico City's largest parish, in 

1842 the average marriage-age for males was thirty-two; that 

174 
for females was twenty-three. A church marriage was an 

upper-class luxury: the poor mated at much younger ages. Di- . 
rect information on age of marriage was absent, so the figures 
for the surveyed males and for both sexes of Manzana 57 were 
estimated by subtracting the age of the eldest child from 
that of the parents. The method errs toward overestimation be- 
cause of child mortality and departure from the home of grown 



174 



children. The method, however, provided substantially lower 
figures than those of the Sagrario. The median age of 
marriage for sample males was twenty-seven. On Manzana 57 
the mean age of marriage was twenty-eight for males and 
twenty-one for females. Table 22, which correlates age at 
marriage with mean rent, shows the tendency for age of 
marriage to increase with economic status. 

In modern nations possessing high infant mortality 
rates, the poor breed more children to compensate for future 
deaths. Nineteenth-century Mexican parents reasoned simi- 
larly. The fertility rate of Mexican women, calculated by 
dividing the number of children four years old and under 
by the number of females in the fifteen-to-forty-four-year 
age brackets and multiplying by 1,000, was extremely 
high. San Salvador el Seco's fertility rate was 457. Neca- 
titlan possessed fewer married women and had a fertility 
rate of 267. The only method of birth control Mexican 
woman practiced was breast feeding. Although modern birth 
control experts question the relationship of breast feeding 
to low fertility, it is reasonable to assume that women 
enjoying substantially ' less nutritional standards than 

do those of today would have been substantially less fertile 

J ■ 1 .175 

during lactation. In 1852 one woman was nursing two 

children aged fifteen and thirty-five months. ' Assuming 

no other births separated the two , children, the separation 

between them was a respectable twenty months. Unfortunately 



175 



this was the only reference to breast feeding appearing in 
the documents. Because of infant mortality and the depar- 
ture of grown children, it was impossible to determine how 
many children were born into the poor Mexican family. In 
Necaritlan married women produced children every twelve to 
twenty-four months throughout their reproductive years. 
Although common in the colonial period, infant 
abandonment, a form of population control, occurred on a 
limited scale. No tract ever discussed the abandonment of 
infants as a serious social problem, and the practice 
does not appear to have absorbed the attention of the 
authorities. One document, however, does mention that 

the bodies of abandoned infants found in the parishes were 

1 7 7 
sent to the paupers' cemetery of Santa Paula for burial. 

The maternity ward for unmarried mothers at the Hospicio 

de Pobres required its clients surrender their offspring 

to the orphanage. The requirement may have stemmed from 

the fear that the infant x^70uld later be abandoned. Manuel 

Orozco y Berra, writing early in the reign of Emperor Maxi- 

millian (]_864-1867) , reported that "the inhuman requirement" 

had been abolished and that mothers using the facility al- 

1 78 
most always chose to keep their babies. 

Despite the high birth rates, the Mexican family 
was small. Thirteen percent of the sample households con- 
sisted of only the sample male and hi.s wife. Households 
containing the sample male, his wife, and children comprised 



175 



24 percent of the total and were of quite modest size. 
Thirty-six percent possessed only one child; 24 percent 
possessed two; and 16 percent, three. Only 20 percent 
possessed four or more children. In Necatitlan the mean 
size of households containing children was 4.5. These 

figures agree with Siglo Diez y Wueve's that the average 

.17 9 
size of the poor Mexican family was four. 

The sample data indicate that large broods of 
children were the prerogatives of the wealthy. Two percent 
of the households consisted of the sample male, his parents, 
and his siblings. These were coded Type 9. ilouseholds con- 
taining the sample male, his wife, and his children were 
coded Type 5. Table M-2 contrasts the size, economic, and 
occupational characteristics of the two types. The size of 
Type 5 households has been cited above. Compared to them, 
Type 9 households were extremely large. Over 40 percent 
possessed six or more children. Type 5 households paid a 
mean rent of $9. Type 9 households paid $25. Type 5 
households, were distributed proportionately among the occu- 
pational categories. Only 3 percent of the Type 9 families 
were in the unskilled category. Over 40 percent of them 
were in the upper group. 

Large households including children and live-in 
relatives were also concentrated among" the wealthy. Tables M-3 
and M-4 contrast household sizes with residences and occupa- 
tional characteristics. Residents of the Traza and members 



177 



of the upper occupational category possessed the largest 
households. Table 23, contrasting mean rent with household 
size, shows a correlation between large size and high mean 
rent. 

Living in such wretched circumstances, the popula- 
tion failed to reproduce itself. The only continuous set 
of figures showing the natural rate of growth x^ere those 
for the years 1839-1845 which the ayuntam.iento published in 
1846. They show a small net natural population increase of 

18 

750 a year. These figures, however, must be taken with 
a grain of salt because they were extracted mainly from 
the parish records that always erred toward fecundity. They 
also disagree with contemporary opinion. At a meeting of 
the Junta de Sanidad, a member stated that deaths, par- 
ticularly in the barrios, exceeded births. The private 
citizen who advocated the repair of dilapidated housing ex- 
pressed the same view. Even if the -ayuntamiento s estimate 
of natural population growth is correct, there existed the 
long-term net population deficit. The 19,000 recorded 
deatlis of the cholera epidemics of 1833 and 1850 and the 
smallpox epidemic of 1840 neutralized twenty-five years of 
average annual population growth. These arguments leave 
little reason to doubt the assessment of the demographic 
historian T. H. Hollingsworth that preindustrial urban 
death rates are universally higher than birth rates and 
that constant immigration is necessary to maintain the popu- 
lation at a constant level. 



178 



The heavy rate of immigration into the city failed 
"to produce substantial population growth. Keith Davies, 
whose research is based on the estimates reproduced in 
Table I-A, concluded that during the first half of the 
nineteenth century, the population of Mexico City grew by 
.0 percent a year. Richard Morse's seminar on Mexican 
urban population growth for the same period suggested a 
slightly lower rate of .7 percent a year. The conclu- 
sions of both scholars support the hypothesis that during 
the early decades of national independence, the national 
capital stagnated while outlying cities enjoyed modest 
growth or even flourished. 

The conclusions of Davies and Morse may be opti- 
mistic. Indirect evidence suggests an even smaller growth 
rate. Eighteenth-century immigration into the capital 
caused homelessness and public disorders that moved the 
police to suggest the walling of the city. ' Republican 
immigration, in contrast, caused little public comment. No 
session of the ayuntamiento, public or private, ever dis- 
cussed internal immigration or the problems associated 
with excessive population growth. Immigration failed to 
replace the losses of the 1833 cholera epidemic. A decade 
after its dreadful visit, large areas of the city emptied 

1 S 7 

by the disease remained depopulated. 

The men who made the estimates used by Davies and 
Morse admitted that their estimates were little better than 



179 



1 88 
intelligent guesswork. With this m mind, let us con- 
sider the ayuntamiento' s owi population estimates based on 
their revisions of the municipal census. Since the census 
always underenumerated the population, it was the practice of 
Che municipality to carefully review. the returns and to re- 
vise the count upward. The census determined electoral 
representation, so the aLjuntamiento had a vested interest 
in making the highest possible estimate. Table D-3 illus- 
trates that the highest population estimate made in 1846 
was 174,000. This surpassed by only 6,000 the estimate of 
168,846 made in the year 1816 and used by the ayuntamiento 
to calculate electoral representation for 1824. During its 
1844 review, the ayuntamiento concluded that the population 
of the city grew by one person every three days, an estimate 

that indicates a rate of growth far below that of Davies 

1 89 
and Morse. The conclusions of the ayuntamiento suggest 

that neither human reproduction nor immigration produced 

population growth in the capital's deadly environment. 



Notes 



Garcia Cubas (1945), p. 241. 

2 

Ferry, p. 41. 
^Garcia Cubas (1945), pp. 241, 242. 
''Prieto (1964) , p. 204. 

Calderon de la Barca, p. 125. 



Garcxa Cubas (1945), p. 241. 

AACM, tomo 383, exps. 21, 18; tomo, 3689, exp . 43. 

AACM, tomo 383, exp. 20. 

9 
Ward, tomo 1, p. 42. 

^^-Jilson, p. 281. . 

1 1 

AACM, tomo 5 22, exp. 9. One vara is equal to approxi- 
mately one English yard. 

AACM, tomo 522, exp. 10. 

1 3 

Siglo Diez y Nueve , 2 enero 1844, p. 4. 

' \ A ' 

AACM, tomo 4164, exps. 556, 570; tomo 4157, exp. 

287; tomo 4153, exps. 110, 106. 

AACM, tomo 161, "Actas de 2 noviembre 1841." 

^S^rieto' (1964) , p. 86. 

] 7 

Museo Mexicano , tomo 3, p. 450. ■ . 

1 8 

Mayer, p. 83. 

1 9 

Tylor, pp. 245, 46. 

""Prieto (1964) , p. 190. 

Museo Mexicano, tomo 3, p. 73. 
""Tylor, pp. 55, 56. 

"Populacho," p. 450. Prieto (1964), p. 207. 
""^"Populacho," p. 450. . . 

Tylor, p. 168. ' ' 

2 6 

Jesus Hermosa, Manual de geografia y estadistica de 

la republica mejicana (Paris, 1857), p. 194. 

"^Tylor, p. 174. 

28 

Ward, tomo 1, pp. 16, 17. Thompson, p. 35. Tylor, 

p. 159. Mayer, pp. 36, 37. 

29 , . 

Enrique Florescano, Precios del maiz y crisis agri- 
colas en Mexico (1708-1810) (Mexico, D.F., 1969). 

3 

Thornton, p . 75 . 

31 

Thompson, p . 35 . 

"Prieto (1964) , p. 200. 

33 ^ , 

Garcia Cubas (1945), p. 206. 

Prieto (1948) , p. 202. 

3 5 

Julio Guerrero, La genesis del crimen en Mexico: es- 
tudios de psiquiatria social (Mexico, D.F., 1901), p. 148. 



181 



■ 3 6 _, , 

May e r , p . 16. 

3 7 

Florescano. 

3 ft 

AACM, tomo 154, "Actas de 15 noviembre 1832"; tomo 
36 76, exp . 4. 

3 9 

Semanario Artlstico, 30 noviembre 1844, p. 1. 

4 

Ward, tomo 1, pp. 16, 17. 
MCM, tomo 3689, exp. 43. 

"AACM, tomo 2479, exp. 389. 

43 „ 
Poinsett, p. 123. 

44 ^ 

Secretaria de Estado y Despacho de Relaciones In- 

teriores y Exteriores, 1830, pp. 27, 33; idem, Memoria de 

1834 (Mexico, D.F., 1835), p. 35. 

4 5 

Zamacois, tomo 12, pp. 262-63. Bustamante, p. 46. 

46 

AACM, tomo 52 2, exp. 7. Cue Canovas , p. 374. 

4 7 

Thompson, pp. 150-51. 

48 

AACM, tomo 3453, exp. 93. 

4 9 

Otero, Obras , tomo 1. 

50 

Mayer, pp. 56-5 7. 

AACM, tomo 3284, exps. 10, 14; tomo 152, "Actas de 
6-10 octubre 1832," "Actas de 27 octubre 1832"; tomo 3284, 
exps. 14, 15. 

5 2 

Carrera Stampa, "Pianos," p. 287. 

53 

Thornton, p. 64. 

5 4 

AACM, tomo 3668, exp. 23, 35. 

5 5 

AACM, tomo 3668, exps. 30, 56. Liceo mexicano , 2 

toraos (Mexico, D.F., 1844), tomo 1, p. 389. 

AACM, tomo 3686, exps. 35, 36. 
5 7 ^ 

Isidore Olivera, El colera (Mexico, D.F., 1851), 

p. 59. 

■David A. Langtry, "The 1832 Epidemic of Asiatic 
Cholera in New Haven, Connecticut," Journal of the History 
of Medicine and Allied Sciences, October, 1970), p. 464. 

^'"'aACM, tomo 3668, exps. 20, 35, 58. Carlos Maria 
Bustamante, El gabinete mexicano, 2 tomos (Mexico, D.F. , 
1842), tomo 1, p. 52. 

°AACM, tomo 3689, exp. 43. 

"Barrios de la Ciudad," Boletin Municipal , 10 
marzo 1903, p. 1. 



182 



Prieto (1964), p. 306. 

~ AACM, tomo 3668, exp . 30. 

6 4 

Macedo, p. 25. , ■ 

AACM tomo 3686, exps. 43, 56. Diccionario de la in- 
dustrial "Confitero." 

'''Garcia Cubas (1945), p. 206. 

67 

Latrobe, pp. 110, 111. • , ■ 

68 , ^ 

Thornton, p. 51. 

'^Calderon de la Barca, pp. 108-109, 144-45. 

7 

Siglo Diez y Nueve , 12 noviembre 1841, p. 1. 

71 

Mayer, Appendix 5. Thompson, pp. 47-48. 

72 

Ibid. 

73 , 

Mexico City's vertical social stratification was the 

opposite of that prevailing in Paris of the same period where 

the poor lived upstairs and the rich occupied the lowest floors 

'"^AACM, tomo 3413, "Manzana 136." 

75 ' • . • 

Macedo, p. 63. 

^^ Prieto (1964) , p. 157. 

77 

Mayer, p. 41. 

^^Prieto (1964), pp. 202-203. Macedo, p. 78. Tylor, 



66. 



p. 66. 



^'^Di Telia, p. 95. 

80 

Mayer, p. 41. 

Prieto (1948), pp. 202-203. Macedo, p. 78. Tylor, 



82 

Ruxton, p. 54. 

AACM, tomo 4153, exp. 141. 

8 4 

Macedo, p. 88. 

85 ,, 

Ann F. Staples, La cola del diablo en la vida con- 
ventual" (Tesis , Doctor en historia, Colegio de Mexico, Centro 
de Estudios Historicos , 1970), p. 170. 

86 . 

Mexico City, Archive de Salubridad y Asistencia, • 

"Libro de cuentas, casa de vecindad, Calle de las Moscas, 
ano de 1838." 

AACM, tomo 392, exp. 53. 

88 

Poinsett, p. 95. 

AACM, tomo 3413, "Manzana 57"; tomo 3409 ,- "Manzana 
168"; tomo 3691, exp. 153. 

9 

Ibi d . 



183 



9 1 

Mayer, p. 41. 

'■'"AACM, tomo 3409, "Manzana 180." 
'■'^"Remitido," Sol, 13 mayo 1832, p. 4. 

'"'aACM, tomo 3413, "Manzana 57." 

9 5 

"Casas de vecindad," Siglo Diez y Nueve , 14 noviem- 

bre 1844, p. 4. 

'Calderon de la Barca, p. 145. "Remitido," Sol, p. 3, 
'■* ' "Remitido," Sol, 14 agosto 1844, p. 3. 

9 K ■ 

Tylor, p. 65. 

9 9 

"Barrios de la Ciudad," Boletin Municipal , 1 febrero 

1903, p. 1. 

'""aACM, tomo 3413, "Manzana 5 7." 

1, 1 , 

Thompson, p. 51. 

1 2 

AACM, tomo 2892, "Contra Guadalupe Reyes, 10 octubre 

1852." 

103 

Rivera Cambas, tomo 2, p. 241. 

104^ 

Mayer, p. 83., 

105 

Thompson, p. 51. 

10 6 

Macedo, p. 50. 

AACM, tomo 3413, "Manzana 41." 

10 8 

Ruxton, p. 54. 
^""'^AACM, tomo 3413, "Manzana 168." 

"Remitido," Sol, 13 mayo 1832, p. 3. 

1 1 1 

"Casas," 14 noviembre 1841, p. 4. 

112. 

Olivera, p. 5/. 

1 1 3 

This was the equivalent of the Parisian "cholera 

house in which conditions were worse than bad." The rooms — 
narrow, filthy, ill-ventilated — provided the persons who ex- 
isted there with as little as three square meters of space 
each. See R. E. McGrew, "The First Cholera Epidemic in 
Social History," Bulletin of the History of Medicine, vol. 
39 (1960), p. 69. 

'"Remitido," Sol, 13 mayo 1832, p. 3. 

AACM, tomo 302, "Actas de 18-abril 1839." ' 

116 

Latrobe, p. 111. 

^AACM, tomo 3690, exp . 47. 



184 



' ^ *^Prieto (1948) , p. 238. 

119 

Rodriguez de San Miguel, Manual, p. 49. 

1 20 

Macedo, p. 78. 
^^'Prieto (1948), pp. 202-203. 

12 2 

Thornton, pp. 50-51. 

1 2 3 

Thompson, pp. 47-48. 

""aACM, tomo 3691, exp . 307; tomo 3627, exp . 43. 

^'^Prieto (1948), pp. 202-204. 

^"''aACM, tomo 3668, exp. 27; tomo 3686, exp. 35. 

1 2 7 

AACM, tomo 3686, exp. 40. Ayuntamiento de Mexico, 
Memoria de 1845, p. 8. 

12 8 

"Muladores," Siglo Diez y Nueve , 19 noviembre 1841, 

p. 2. 

129. . , ^ . 

Ayuntamiento de Mexico, Memoria de 1845, p. 8. 

^'^° "Barrios," 17 febrero 1903, p. 1. 

Prieto (1964), pp. 202-203. "Barrios de la Ciudad,' 
Boletin Municipal , 9 enero 1903, p. 1. 

^' ^"Muladores," p. 2. 

AACM, tomo 3686, exp. 33. 

■ 1 3 4 

AACM, tomo 3668, exp. 14. 

"Remitido," Sol, 14 agosto 1834, p. 3. 

13 6 

Tylor, p. 65. 

'''aACM, tomo 3631, exp. 30 7; tomo 3686, exps . 33, 37, 

53; tomo 3668, exps. 23, 32, 49, 55. 

1 3 8 

Ruxton, p. 20. R. H. Mason, Pict.ures of Life in 

Mexico, 2 vols. (London, 1852), vol. 1, p. 123. 

13 9 

Mayer, p. 41. 

■^"^''aACM, tomos 723-38. 

E. Dabout, Diccionario de medecina (Mexico, D.F., 
1958). 

1 42 

T. H. Hollmgsworth, Historical Demography (New 

York, 1969), "Introduction." 

1 "1 3 , , ^ , , , 

Mexico, Semanario Artistico , 30 noviembre 184A, 

p. 2. 

144 

Olivera, p. 57. 

1 4 s 

AACM, tomo 3686, exp. 53. 



185 



Ay unt ami en. to de Mexico, Memoria de 1845, p. 204. 

] -1 7 

AACM, tomo 36 76, exp. 4. 

14 8 

AACM, tomo 733. Richard E. Beyer, "Las ciudades 

mexicanas: perspectivas de estudio en el siglo XIX," His- 

toria Mexicana, vol. 21 (enero-raarzo 1972), pp. 481-525. 

149,. 

Olivera, p. 56. 

15 

Thornton, p. 81. 

15 1 ^ ^ 

Olivera, p. 57. 

"Malo, tomo 1, p. 75. Zamacois, tomo 13, pp. 'ill-lQ. 

1 S3 

McGrew, pp. 61-7 3. 

1 5 4 

Langtry, p. 500. 

^"prieto (1964), pp. 69-73. 

156 ^ ^^ ■ ' • 

Malo, tomo 2, p. 75. 

''aACM, tomos 723-24. 

■ICQ 

Leonard Tushnet, "Health Conditions in the Ghetto 
of Lodz," Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences , 
January, 1963, p. 65. David T. Smith et al . , Bacteriology (New 
York, 1957). 

15 9 ^- 

Mayer, p. 55. 

160. 

Poinsett, p. 13. 

^"^Prieto (1948), pp. 458-59, 202-203. 

^'"AACM, tomos 3406-31. 

^''■^AACM, tomo 2020, exp. 40. 

^""^AACM, tomos 723-33. 

165 ■ ' 

Hollmgsworth . 

AACM, tomo 3673, exps . 15-42. These documents are 
requests to exempt the smaller parishes directly dependent 
upon burial fees for their finances from the prohibition 
against burials inside the city. They cover a sixteen-year 
period (1833-1849) . 

^"prieto (1948), pp. 202-203. "Barrios de la Ciudad," 
Boletin Municipal , 17 febrero 1903, p. 1. 

16 8 , , ^ , . 

The manzanas and the percentages or their popula- 
tions under age fifteen are Manzana 97, forty percent; Man- 
;^ana 198, thirty-five percent; Manzana- 129, twenty-four per- 
cent; Manzana 90, thirty-six percent. 

16 9 

Warren S. Thompson and David T. Lewis, Population 

Problems, 5th ed. (New York, 1965), pp. 86-87. 



186 



^'^"ibid., p. 90. . ' ■ ■ 

^■"jMd., pp. 92-94. 
^"AACM, tomo 3411. 

173 

Tlioinpson aad Lewis, p. 75. . • 

^^''aaCM, tomos 723-24. 

1 7 5 

Ronald Freedman, "Family Size in Underdeveloped 

Areas," in Charles B. Nam, ed.. Population and Society (Bos- 
ton, 1968). 

^'^^AACM, tomo 2760, "Sobre Maria Trinidad Laura, 1852." 

17 7 

AACM, tomo 3673, exp . 42. 

1 7 M 

Manuel Orozco y Berra, Estado actual de las esta- 
blecimientos de beneficencia (Mexico, D.F., 1864), p. 18. 

17 9 

"Editorial," 12 noviembre 1841, p. 3. 

1 Q A 

Ayuntamiento de Mexico, Memoria de 1845, p. 204. 
See also Table P-2. 

AACM, tomo 3686, exp. 35. 

^"■"Remitido," Sol, 13 mi^yo 1832, p. 3. 

1 H 5 

Hollingswortli, p. 40. 

1 S 4 

Keith Davies , "Tendencias demograficas urbanas 
durante el siglo XIX en Mexico," Historia Mexicana , octubre- 
diciembre 1972, pp. 142-60. 

John Wibel and Jesse de la Cruz, "Mexico," in 
Richard M. Morse, ed . , The Urban Development of Latin America, 
1750-1920 (Stanford, California, 1971). 

^^^m Telia, pp. 107-11. 

^^''prieto (1948), p. 53. 

. ^^^^"Poblacion," pp. 48-50. 

18 9 

AACM, tomo 37 3, exp. 2; tomo 863. 



CHAPTER FOUR 



PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS AND FAMILY 



We have seen monuments erected but 
not the establishment of hospitals 
and other charitable institutions ; 
millions consumed to fund public 
and even private gatherings in 
great luxury, but not one cent con- 
secrated to the sake of humanity . 

— Liceo Mexicano , 1844 



Public Institutions 

The national government was an insatiable predator 
which craved money and men. A variety of excise taxes on 
primary necessities like maize, beans, eggs, meat, and pul- 
que weighed heavily upon the poor. In 1841 Thompson, re- 
ferring to the excise taxes, reported that the government 
of General Santa Anna was "engaged in a campaign to see 
how much taxation the people can bear." The government. 
also levied a series of direct taxes upon income. The per- 
sonal contribution of 1842 affected all males capable of 

work and was a minimum of one real a month. It was followed 

2 
the next year by a general head tax of one real a month. 



187 



188 



The normally dull pages of Legislacion mexicana ex- 
press outrage when they describe the impact of the direct 
taxes upon the poor. The police collected the "direct con- 
tribution" of 1825 brutally. They demanded more than the 
poor possessed and v/ould "In terally" take the bread from 
their mouths. Although the "personal contribution" of 1842 
exempted incomes under $300 a year, tax collectors ignored 
the exemption. A government circular stated: 



Notices have arrived to the Supreme 
Government that some tax collectors 
stop debtors in the streets and 
strip them or enter the shacks of 
the miserable and rip the rags off 
their backs, which above all is un- 
just and causes serious disgust. 
The Government orders that under no 
circumstances will the "unhappy 
class" or the tru.ly miserable be 
extorted or seized.-^ 



, The circular admitted that the rates charged the poor were 
determined arbitrarily and bore no relation to individual 
ability to pay. , 

The government's demand for soldiers was insatiable. 
Poor men hated impressment, the traditional method of re- 
cruiting, as a vestige of colonial absolutism. Riots 
occurred in 1826, 1828, and 1832 when press gangs roamed 

4 

the barrios. The function of the Tribunal de Vagos , es- 
tablished in 1828, was to extract vagrants from the popula- 
tion for military service while sparing the useful and 



189 



productive. The hearings of the Tribunal, legally limited 
to three days, often lasted longer because judges permitted 
the defendant additional time to gather witnesses. The 
lengthy hearings, the result of an earnest desire to pro- 
vide justice, failed to provide the government with a steady 
or large stream of soldiers. When military exigencies were 
acute, the government harassed the Tribunal into declaring 
as vagrant everybody seized by the police or array. During 
August 1841, for example, it sentenced five hundred men to 
military service in trials lasting less than twenty-four 
hours. The sole criterion of guilt or innocence was whether 
or not the accused had been arrested in a pulgueria. Critics 
of these proceedings claimed that their burden fell principally 
upon the honest, hard-working poor and that their progress 
allowed ample scope for revenging neighborhood feuds. 

In 1829 and 1851 the government selected soldiers 
by compulsory sorteo (lottery) . A critic of the 1829 sorteo 
argued that only the poor were assured of conscription and 
that the system "divided the classes with the speed of 

Q 

lightening." The sorteo conducted by General Santa Anna 
in 1851, designed to raise an army of ninety thousand, de- 
generated into impressment. Workshops and factories became 
idle as their occupants were dragged off to the barracks. 
The sight of "kidnapped leperos ," with pants just 
fitting around their hips and stomachs protruding from short 
uniform coats, stumbling through the manual of arms, amused 



190 



10 

Thompson. The poor, however, hardly regarded military 

service as a joke. Soldiers chained and marched the con- 
scriptees to the barracks where they awaited assignment to 
regiments. In 1848 men taken by a press gang remained 
locked for days without food in the convent of Belen until 



a friar, hearing of their plight, purchased bread for th 



em 



1 '' 
out of his own pocket. Once processed into the army, they 

experienced brutal treatment. Sergeants beat recalcitrants 

with clubs until their "heartbreaking shouts degenerated into 

animal moaning" or tied them to a rack and flogged them until 

they required hospitalization. It is little wonder that 

1 4 
most deserted before their term of service had expired. 

The impressment of a head of family was an economic 
catastrophe for his dependents, for military pay was "insuffi- 
cient to feed even himself, and rations were scanty and ir- 

1 5 
regularly issued. The necessity of keeping a family to- 
gether during military service was one of the principal 
reasons why the Junta de Fomento de Artesanos promoted the 
establishment of savings accounts. Since savings accounts 
did not exist, the families of conscriptees faced destitu- 
tion. Wailing wives and children surrounded the barracks 
which housed their husbands and fathers. In 1841 the 
wives and children of soldiers impressed in the provinces 
and stationed in Mexico City died of exposure in their 
makeshift camps near the convents of San Agustin, San Fran- 
Cisco, Santo Domingo, and La Merced. 



191 



The national government and the municipality failed 
to compensate the poor for their sacrifice of money and man- 
power. Public institutions provided minimal relief. Mexico 
City's hospitals were in disgraceful condition. During the 
colonial period, the religious orders had administered them. 
Following independence, the hospitals, most of which were in 

decrepit condition, became the responsibility of the ayunta- 

] 9 
miento. Table 24 lists the hospitals that existed in 1849. 

The mitre (archbishopric), under contract to the city, 

staffed and administered the 500-bed general hospital of 

San yVndres. San Pablo was a 70-bed general hospital founded 

during the war with the United States. The hospitals of 

San Hipolito and the Divine Savior were lunatic asylums 

for men and women. San Lazaro was a leprosarium. The hos-' 

pitals of Saint John and Jesus were small, private hospitals 

that took charity cases. Although after 1843 the Sisters 

of Cliarity administered the municipal hospitals, the only 

hospLtal funded and operated by a religious order was that 

of San Franciscan Terciaries. 

Conditions in the hospitals were extremely poor. A 

visitor to the hospital of San Lazaro complained that the 

isolated lepers, afflicted with a disease that intensified 

their sexual drives, resorted to "horrible and repugnant 

,,20 

practices against nature. A year later the Junta de 
Sanidad reported that since leprosy was not a contagious 
dise£ise, San Lazaro should be closed down. If the lepers 



192 



were to remain hospitalized, it added, conditions in the hos- 

2 1 

pxtal should at least be made livable. Some improvement 
followed the criticism. Tyler, visiting the leprosarium 
in 1852, reported the building to be spacious and clean and 
the patients well attended. Their lives were cheered by 

' 2 

Visits and small gifts from charitable persons. 

Fanny Calderon de la Barca visited the hospital of 
the Divine Savior in 1841. She remarked diplomatically that 
although the institution lacked funds, its directoress was 
totally devoted to the patients in her care. The patients, 
however, appeared "poor and miserable." The men's insane 
asylum at San Hipolito gave the ambassador's wife a far 
better impression. The 90 to 100 inmates "sauntered about 
quiet and for the most part sad amidst the beauty of large 
stone courts, with orange trees and pomegranates now in full 
blossom and large fountains of beautifully clear water." 
Although the visitor failed to see the inmate's cells, she 
did visit the "black chamber," the small, dark, and airless 
cell in which the violent thrashed out their seizures. She 
remarked that the asylum had not yet instituted the practice 
of ■ employing the insane. One imbecile boy passed his entire 
life in a wooden box placed before the kitchen, watching the 

23 

maids prepare meals. 

Sehora de la Barca 's favorable -impression of life at 
San Hipolito is belied by the 1848 report of the Junta de 
Sanidad: 



193 



The condition of San Hipolito is now, and 
probably has been for the past seventy 
years, a frightful disgrace. Each patient 
is enclosed in filthy and unventilated 
little cells that comprise the principal 
part of the building; they are called, 
with some justice, jails. The patients 
are taken early in the morning to the 
patio and left with nothing to do. No 
patient has left cured, and all have aban- 
doned the little sanity that they once 
possessed. Degrees of mental illness are 
not distinguished. Raging madmen are left 
with absolute idiots. Idiots are reduced 
to a purely animal life. The greater 
part of the unfortunates are "monomaniacs"; 
they many times retain sufficient judgment 
to be put to useful work, but the managers 
practice only an immemorable routine. In 
the first days that they are put in the 
hospital, the mildly insane beg for work 
to break the monotony, but gradually they 
are brought to a state of despair and hope- 
lessness through boredom. The hospital 
rather than being a benefit is a positive 
evil, a place of despair. 



Tiie hospital of San Andres was never in any condition 
to provide proper medical care. It lost most of its funds 
when the legal settlement of corporately owned property 
that immediately followed pos tindependence ceded its reve- 
nue-producing properties to the ayuntamiento . At the same 
time, the municipality closed do\^7n four of the most decrepit 
public hospitals ; leaving San Andres the only general hos- 
pital tasked with the care of charity cases. Squeezed by 
increasing responsibilities and decreasing revenues, San 
Andres was a public disgrace. In 1828 the hospital's rector 
comp].ained that the department of surgery on the ground floor 



194 



was too wet for medical use. Its darkness and lack of venti- 
lation aggravated the suffering of the patients. The de- 
partment of medicine was indiscriminately crammed with pa- 
tients suffering from contagious and noncontagious diseases. 

2 5 
The patients lacked proper bedding and nourishing food. 

The passage of years changed nothing at San Andres. 
In 1848 the Eco de Comercio reported that the hospital was 
crowded and filthy. One small poorly ventilated room con- 
tained eighty patients who lay on the floor in rows one-half 
yard apart. The bedding was unwashed and reeked with the 
sweat of 200 patients. A layer of grime one-half inch thick 
coated the wooden partitions dividing the wards. The sight 
of cadavers being delivered from the wards to the morgue 
located in the central patio demoralized the patients. 

Hospitalization was free to the needy; however, they 
were reluctant to use the available facilities. Table 25 
shows the admission and exit of free and imprisoned pa- 
tients for portions of 1828 and 1846. Over half of the 
patients during these periods were prisoners. Twenty-seven 
and 28 percent of all free patients who entered the hospital 
died while only 10 and 12 percent of the imprisoned patients 
did so. The smaller number of free patients and their 
higher percentages of deaths indicate their reluctance to 
place themselves in the hospital until 'they were on the 

27 

verge of death. 



195 



The republican ayuntamiento continued the colonial 
tradition of providing the poor with free medical care. 

Colonial decrees ordering ^licensed doctors to provide the 

28 
poor with free medical care were reenacted in 1822. The 

doctors, however, were notoriously loath to treat anyone 

29 

but their affluent regular patients. Had they been more 

enthusiastic about meeting the needs of the poor, their 

small numbers — 123 or 1:1,040 — and their residences within 

3 
the Traza limited their accessibility to the poor. 

The poor hesitated to visit trained doctors. In- 
stead they attempted to cure themselves with poisonous 

patent medicines or sought the aid of curanderos (unlicensed 

3 1 
doctors) who abounded in the city. The authorities con- 
sidered the curanderos a menace to public health and treated 

3 2 

them as criminal vagrants. 

Boticas (drug stores) traditionally gave free medi- 
cine to the poor in the evenings. The poor availed them- 
selves of the drugs, but their effectiveness is doubtful. 
The boticas were fetid and filthy. The druggist, himself, 
was to a licensed doctor as a pretentious articled clerk 
was to a lawyer. His usual remedies were a yellow ointment 
for pimples, cefalic water for toothaches, powdered horn, 
tripe of Judas or gum of aquilon for childbirth, and stag- 
horn or powdered cornmeal for general ailments. During the 
cholera epidemic of 1833, a druggist sold pieces of parch- 
ment that purportedly would protect the wearers from the 



196 



disease. Hundreds purchased the parchment and subsequently 
perished. The ayuntamiento showed its low evaluation of 
customary medicines when it wisely decided that nourishing 

food was the best medicine to distribute to the poor during 

3 3 
the measles epidemic of ]_825. 

Municipality efforts at preventive medicine failed. 
It was unab].e to enforce even rudimentary standards of muni- 
cipal sanitation. A mass antismallpox vaccination drive 
held in 1826 also failed. The poor would not present their 
children for vaccination. The few who were vaccinated ■ 
deliberately picked off their scabs before immunization 

could occur or lacked sufficient clothing to protect the 

3 4 
development of the sore. 

Epidemics overwhelmed the city's meager medical fa- 
cilities. In 1825, to combat a mysterious fever, the ayunta- 
miento published and distributed a pamphlet advising the 
poor to take to bed at the first hint of a fever, eat 
nourishing food, and drink lots of fresh fruit juices. The 
advice, which would probably meet the approval of modern 
doctors, never reached its audience who could not read or 
afford to rest from its daily labors. Efforts to curb an 
outbreak of measles that same year failed because the 
fathers of poor children would not send them to the hospital.^ 

The cholera epidemic of 1833 ilTustrates the ayunta- 
miento' s tragic inability to provide emergency medical care ■ 
to the poor. The municipal authorities anxiously followed 



197 



the spread of the epidemic from Europe through the United • 

States and into the ports of northern Mexico. It ordered, 

3 6 
but could not enforce, a general cleanup. In June, as 

the disease spread into central Mexico, ordinances decreed 

the establishment of two emergency hospitals whose services 

would be available free to the poor, councils of health in 

every two cuarteles menores. The municipality appealed to 

convents, monasteries, cofradias , the mitre, and wealthy 

private citizens for contributions to fund the struggle 

against the disease. It .also asked the religious institu- 

3 7 
tions to establish their ol;^m emergency hospitals. 

Nothing came of the ayuntamiento^ s efforts. On 
August 7, the day cholera appeared in the city, new ordi- 
nances repeated those of June and pledged the authorities 
to the care and feeding of the poor. Contributions to fi- 
nance the measures did not appear. Although the mitre and 
some of the parishes established hospitals, all the con- 
vents save La Merced refused to exhaust their resources or 

endanger the health of their members by the establishment 

. , 38 
or hospitals. 

One week after cholera appeared in the streets and 
hovels of the city, so many people were dying that it was 
impossible for the parish clergy to administer the last 
rites. Unable to contain the disease, the ayuntamiento re- 
quested the mitre to dispatch sufficient numbers of the reli- 
gious and nonparish clergy to the barrios to confess the 



198 



dying. Three weeks later, on August 28, cholera had slain 

3 9 
nearly 6,000 inhabitants." By that time the city was a 

fear-ridden sepulcher, a place of 



silent deserted streets with the sound of 
hurried footsteps in the distance of some- 
one running for help. The yellow, black, 
and white flags that showed the presence 
of the disease, the doctors, the priests, 
the houses of charity, the pharmacies 
crowded with people, the churches with 
their doors wide open and their altars 
covered with 1,000 lights, people kneeling 
down with their arms forming a cross and 
weeping . . . and far off in the distance, 
the dismal high-pitched squeal of v;agon 
wheels as they bore away the load of 
corpses . ^ '-' 



Few details concerning the Hospicio de Pobres (muni- 
cipal almshouse) survive from the period. A detailed re- 
port written in 1864 by Manuel Orozco y Berra supplements 
existing information. The hospicio's official capacity was 
500 inmates. In 1864, however, the institution held only 
197: 75 boys, 73 girls, 13 old men, and 35 old women. '^^ 
During the period of this study, the number of inmates that 
it contained evidently strained its resources. In 1831 the 
rector evicted eight inmates for alleged misbehavior. All 
eventually found their way to the dockets of the Tribunal 
de Vagos whose magistrates declared them physically or men- 
tally unfit for military service and remanded them to the 
hospicio. The rector reaccepted his former charges, admitting 



199 



that the poverty and overcrowding had forced him to make a 

4 2 
hasty and unv^ise decision. Hampered by lack of funds, the 

I ■ 4 3 

i| hospicio temporarily ceased operations in 1826 and 1841. 

Physically the hospicio was a shambles. Guillermo 

Prieto described the building as it existed in 1841: 



Patios full of sand with weeds growing 
•to the banks of the drainpipes, loose 
and dangling gratings, broken bricks 
in the corridors, pieces of crumbling 
roof tiles. In the dining room, hunger; 
in -the kitchen, smoke, grime, and bones 
replacing meat. In the department of 
beggars, filth, cold, and living skele- 
tons .'''* 



The Junta de Sanidad reported in 1849 generally filthy condi- 
tions that included poor ventilation, insufficient baths, 
pools of Stagnant water in the wards, and clogged toilets. 

■ In the 1830s the inmates of the hospicio occupied 

46 
themselves by weaving and tailoring. A loan from the 

Banco de Avio enabled the establishment of a paper factory 

47 
on the premises. In the 1840s girls worked as lace makers. 

Contractors hired the boys as spinners in textile mills. 

Prieto thought the latter employment to be sweated labor. 

Adults worked and received wages from a canvas factory 

4 9 

established on the premises by a private entrepreneur. 
The hospicio^ s inmates also worked as pallbearers at the 
funerals of the wealthy. 



a 



200 



The 1864 report gives a more detailed picture of the 
hospicio^ s daily routine. The tailoring, carpentry, and 
weaving workshops occupying rent-free premises on the es- 
tablishment so mistreated and underpaid the boys that they 
preferred to work as pallbearers. In view of their abuses, 
Orozco y Berra questioned the usefulness of the workshops 
continued existence. The pallbearers received $1, keeping 
one real and surrendering the remaining seven to the hos- 
picio. When the boys were not working, they performed all 
the chores of the establishment. Girls worked at a sewing 
nd embroidery shop and were well instructed and well paid. 
The aged had no duties but the cleaning of their quarters. 

Hospicio regulations to the contrary, they passed the day 

u - - , 51 ■ 

begging m the streets. 

The Casa de Cuha (orphanage) , supervised by a junta 

of the wealthiest families in Mexico, was the most effectively 

dministered charity. The junta's male members contributed 

money while their wives, took personal responsibility for 

each foundling entrusted to the orphanage. The cuha placed 

newborn or infant foundlings in the care of Indian wet nurses 

living in the villages surrounding the capital. The wet 

nurses, whose health and character were periodically certified 

received for their services the respectable sum of $4 a month. 

This sensible practice, also prevalent in Europe, removed 

the infants from the city's deadly environment.^" Every 

fifteen days the wealthy benefactresses personally inspected 



a 



201 



the Infants at the village of Tacubaya. The better families 
of the capital eventually adopted the foundlings. 

In 1841 senora de la Barca reported the orphanage 
to be clean and spacious. The 1849 report of the Junta de 

Sanidad criticized the institution for its filth and over- 

5 5 
crowding. The orphanage's condition that year may have 

been due to the aftermath of the war with the United States. 
Manuel Orozco y Berra expressed his "great pleasure and 
astonishment" at the good order, cleanliness, and efficient 
supervision of the orphanage that contrasted sharply with 
the capital's other charitable institutions. Wet nurses 
were kept on hand for the emergency nursing of malnourished 
foundlings. Grown children were not turned out on the 
streets but remained in the establishment until adulthood. 
The orphanage contained a small primary school for the in- 
struction of both sexes. Adolescent boys received instruc- 
tion in shoemaking, goldsmithing, drawing, and painting, 
while girls learned music and embroidery. Family spirit 
and economy was engendered by having the girls sew clothes 

for the boys and the boys make shoes and trinkets for the 

. ^ 5 6 
girls . 

The municipal prison on the ground floor of the 

aijuntamiento' s building housed petty thieves, n ' eer-do-wells , 

5 7 
and drunkards. The Junta de Sanidad reported it to be 

overcrowded and filthy. Barrels containing the prisoners' 

excrement stood in the cells, and a thick paste of grime 



202 



and crushed roaches caked the walls/ Every day its in- 

5 9 
mates were led out in chains to sweep the streets. 

The Acordada housed prisoners serving sentences of 

more than one month and those awaiting trial for the more 

serious crimes. Over 1,000 men and women languished within 

60 
Its gray walls. The exterior of the prison presented a 

grisly sight. At the main entrance stood a large iron 
gate displaying the bodies of those found murdered in the 
streets; the display was for the purpose of identification. 
Private and relatively clean cells housed the wealthy, but 
large common cells whose conditions disgraced nineteenth- 
century standards of penal sanitation housed the poorer 

52 
prisoners. The Junta de Sanidad reported in 1848 that 

the cells were overcrowded and filthy. Two of them were in 
a "fatal state" because their pavement had become loose and 
their floors were wet. Their inmates, lacking pallets, 
slept directly on the damp and filthy floors. The stench 
from currentless toilets pervaded the prison. The report 
ended by strongly urging the authorities to remedy the 
physical defects and "above all to provide more sleeping 
space because an epidemic would transform the jails (na- 
tional and municipal) into "inexhaus table focuses of infec- 
tion and death." 

There was no effort to separate first offenders, 
hardened criminals, murderers, or those who were merely 
awaiting trial. All mixed together in the cells or in the 



203 



64 
large central recreational courtyard. The government, in 

a fit of prudery, ended the cherished practice of conjugal 

visitation. It was not long before indignant prisoners 

comp].ained that sodomy and other unnatural practices 

flourished. Mistreatment of the prisoners o,ccasionally 

took place. In 1841 a prison official neglected to feed 

the prisoners. The general impression is, however, that 

the authorities left the prisoners to themselves. Inmates 

formed societies within which the strong terrorized the weak, 

robbing them of possessions and imposing their own system 

^ . 66 . . 

of justice. The prison authorities did little to inter- 
fere with the internal society of the prison. At times 
prisoner's wives openly made "aguardiente trips," and gambling 
establishments and cantinas existed within the prison. Not 
surprisingly the prisoners were openly contemptuous of their 
keepers. A riot and charges of maltreatment were the rewards 
of one zealous warden who attempted to arrest and punish the 
ringleader of a vicious extortion racket flourishing inside 

68 

the prison. 

Little constructive activity occurred within the 
prison. Some inmates supported themselves by selling the 

handicrafts they produced from any materials that they could 

69 
scavenge. Every day up to 150 naked, filthy prisoners 

chained to each other by their throats -and feet earned one 

7 

real a day by laboring at various public projects. The 
most degrading of these was the cleaning of the drains and 



204 



aqueducts during which the prisoners stood up to their 

waists in the putrid slime, removing it with rude tools or 

, . , 7 1 
their own hands. Despite the forced labor, the prisoners 

were poorly exercized. The Junta de Sanidad thought that 
lack of exercise seriously weakened inmates of both jails. ^^ 

In 1841, prompted by scandal and reports of British 
reforms, the government established a school and workshops 
at which the prisoners could learn useful trades while 
earning half-pay that could be applied to supplementary 
food and clothing. The workshops, reported Siglo Diez y 
Nueve, were well lit, supervised, and equipped." The Acor- 
dada's tailor shop advertised its wares until 1844, but it 
is doubtful that the school and shops survived the war with 
the United States. 

Chronic debt was the lot of the poor, and credit 
their necessity. Lacking money, the poor commonly resorted 
to simple barter. Stores and pulquerlas accepted pawns in 
direct payment for groceries and pulque.'^'* This practice, 
which encouraged petty theft, was illegal in Mexico City as 
it was in nineteenth-century London." The tobacco factory, 
in 1851, operated a store (Tienda de Raya) where the opera- 
tives could buy clothes on credit. ^^ The store could only 
have been a service to the Estanco's malpaid employees. 
Credit was scarce. An artisan 'in need of money 
could pester his master or the merchant for whom he worked 
for an advance in wages or an outright loan." The typical 



205 



TABLE 24 
HOSPITALS, MEXICO CITY, 1849 



Hospi tal 



Function 



Capacity 



San Andres (1851) 

San Pablo, F d . 184 7 

Jesus 

Terceros 

San Hipolito 

Divine Savior 

San Lazaro 

San Juan de Dios, Fd . li 



Municipal general 
'Municipal g e n e r a I 
Private general 
Private general 
Male insane asylum 
Female insane asylum 
Leprosarium 
Private general 



500 
60 
50 



90 



SOURCE: Gilberto F. Aguilar and Roberto Ezquero Peraza, Los 
hospitales de Mexico (Mexico, D.F., 1936). 



TABLE 25 
HOSPITAL OF SAN ANDRES, 
ADMISSION AND DISCHARGE OF PATIENTS, 1828. 



1846 





Previously 
Admitted 


Entered 


Exited 


Died 


Remainder 


Jan. 1 to April 30, 1828: 










Free patients 94 


390 


285 


107 


97 


Prisoners 127 


440 


411 


46 


110 


May 1 to May 19, 1828: 










Free patients 9 7 


71 


71 


20 


77 


Prisoners 110 


81 


86 


8 


97 


Jan. 1 to Aug. 30, 1846: 










Free patients 57 


43 


34 


21 


45 


Prisoners 74 


'94 


86 


11 


70 



SOURCE: AACM, tomo 229 7, exps. 7, 14, 



206 



TABLE 26 
PRIMARY SCHOOLS, 1845 



Schools 



Enrollment 



Convents : 
San Francisco 
■ La Merced 
San Agustin 
Santo Domingo 
San Diego 
Total 

Lancastrian (males) : 
Filantropia 
San Felipe de Jesus 
La Beneficencia 
Nocturna de Adultos 
Casa de Correccion 
Carcel-Presos 
Total 

Lancastrian (females) : 
Santa Maria la Redonda 
Santa Rosa de Lima 
La Caridad 
La Providencia 
San Diego 
Salto de Agua 
Callejon de Lecuona 
Carcel-Presas 
Total 

Private (males) : 

44 

Private (females) : 
40 

TOTAL 



66 

330 
530 
103 
222 
1,221 

300 

260 

300 

60 

57 

60 

1,037 

120 

110 

139 

140 

60 

72 

53 

41 

735 

1,546 

892 
5,847 



SOURCE: Dorothy T. Estrada, "Las escuelas lancastrianas en 
la Ciudad de Mexico: 1822-1842," Historla Mcxicana, vol. 22, 
no . 4, p . 497 . 



207 



TABLE 2 7 
SCHOOLS OF THE SOCIETY OF CHARITY, 1851 



Year of 
Foundation 



Location Enrollment 



1846 . Callejon de Higuera 200 

1847 Plaza de Mixcaico 100 

1847 Plaza de Necatitlan 160 

1848 Plazuela de San Sebastian 120 
1848 Puente de Santa Maria 250 

1848 Calle de Cuadrante de Santa Anna 125 

1849 Calle de Zapo 250 
1849 Calle de San Antonio Abad 150 

1849 Calle de San Hipolito 110 

1850 Candalaria de los Patos 120 

1851 Candalaria de los Patos 120 



SOURCE: AACM, tomo 2479, exp . 389. 



TABLE 28 

ESCUELA DE LAS AMIGAS , BARRIO DE SANTA CRUZ ACATLAN, 

MONTOLY ATTENDANCE, 1831 



Montli Boys Girls 

Jan. 43 9 

Feb. 42 15 

Mar. 45 15 

Apr. . 32 ■ 7 

May 35 14 

June ' 28 16 

July ^ 47 21 

Aug. 66 '21 

Sept. • 73 ' 29 

Oct. 72 34 

Nov. 79 43 

Dec. 86 51 



SOURCE: AACM, torao 24 78, exp. 29 i 



20J 



TABLE 29 
FAMILY TYPES, CENSUS OF 1849 



Type 



Nuclear: 

Self/wife ' 29 

Self /wife/children 35 

Self /siblings/parents 3 

Self/mother ' 2 

Self /mother/father 2 

Self /siblings ■ 3 

Self /mother/siblings ■ 2 

Total ■ 66 

Extended or households ■ 44 

Total cases 1,052 



SOURCE: AACM, tomo 3406. 



209 



merchant or master, himself short of cash, would be unlikely 
to advance wages or make loans to any but his most trusted 

artisans. If he did, his interest rate was probably the 

7 8 
usual mercantile rates of 12 to 24 percent a month. If 

the poor man was desperate he could go to the professional 

money lender. This man 



with the generous heart of the bird of prey 
who hides in a cave, feeding himself on the 
juice of the cadavers, would provide credit 
half in foodstuffs at exorbitant prices and 
half in filthy and corroded coins. A des- 
picably small quantity for which he will 
have to always pay a usurious interest rate 
every eight days. 



For good reason the poor resorted to loans of cash 
only as a last resort. The common way of raising cash was 
by pawning possessions, usually clothing, tools, or furni- 
ture. The most well-known pawnshop in the city was the 
Monte Pio (national pawnshop) established in the late 
colonial period to provide for people in need. The Monte 
Pio lent money against pawns at the annual rate of interest 
of 6.25 percent. It sold articles unredeemed within six 
months and returned the profits of the sale, minus princi- 
pal and interest, to the owner. The old clothes hanging 
on racks at the Monte Pio indicated the popularity of the 

O A 

national pawnshop with the poor. In 1842 the shop 
succored 200 people daily. During the entire thirty-year 



210 



period between 1824 and 1854, the shop received and redeemed 

8 ' 
an average of 42,000 pawns yearly. " Other pawnshops that - 

kept pawns for six months but retained all profits from the 

sale existed within the city. These may have been fronts 

for usurers. At least two of the pawnshops clieated their 

customers by selling the pledges before the six-month period 

, , . ' S3 

had expired. They did not attract the volume of business 

that the charity-oriented Monte Pio did. 

Mexicans of all classes and political persuasions 
viewed education as the panacea for the problems of the 
lower classes. The ayuntarniento thought that public educa- 
tion would "raise the moral and physical level of the poor 
by ending vice and nakedness." The priest of Santo Tomas de 
la Palma desired a school in his parish to promote "good 
order, tranquility, and the security of lives and property . "^''' 
The Museo Mexicano' s critic of the populacho hoped that 

education would one day end the vices of that near criminal 

85 
class. The Semanario Artistico praised education for 

"making one acquire the habits of work, . . . driving from 

man laziness and vice . . . and making him know that truth 

is inseparable from virtue." 

Social harmony and the personal acceptance of the 

existing order was the aim of the educators. The Semanario 

Artistico warned against using education to advance above 

one's station in life: 



211 



To summarize, for the classes placed in 
less favorable positions, to leave them 
with imprudent steps by educating their 
children, marrying them, or placing them 
outside of the sphere in which they find 
themselves is ful],y dangerous; and ex- 
perience confirms it: dangerous for the 
family, bitter for the heart of he who 
has elevated himself, useless almost al- 
ways for the world for whom it is said 
that it is not worth so much having a 
great man as it is to have the general 
peace and the domestic welfare of families. 



Education taught, above all, the virtue of resignation, work, 
and private property. 



It is the school of resignation: It 
teaches us our duties to others. It 
corrects and punishes our vanity and 
reminds us that the human life is 
only a time of trial and preparation. 

Work is also the origin of prop- 
erty, and the lovers of work are 
those who understand better the re- 

Q Q 

spect due to property. 



Public education was the constitutional responsibility 
of the ayuntamiento who established its own schools and pro- 
moted the establishment of private schools. In 1822 seventy- 
one primary schools taught 3,800 students. Table 26 shows 
that by 1845 one hundred three schools enrolled 5,847 stu- 
dents. The most numerous private schools were the Schools 

8 9 

f the Friends and those of the famous Lancastrian Company. 

The five municipal schools enrolled paying as well as free 
students. Almost all the private schools enrolled poor 



o 



212 



children free upon authorization and payment of the munici- 
pality. In 1831, for example, the School of the Friends in 

Cuartel Menor 11 enrolled 437 students of whom 102 were 

9 
"free students." 

After 1846 an organization known as the Society of 
Charity established the twelve schools presented in Table 
27 expressly for the education of the poor. In 1851 these 
schools enrolled 1,865 students. Three years later their 
numbers had expanded to twenty-eight and their enrollment 
had increased to 6,360. Unlike the municipal schools and 
private schools which preceded them, public contribution 
rather than municipal funds or private fees supported the 
schools of the Society of Charity. The parents of the stu- 
dents paid the quite modest fee of one eighth of a real per 
week. 

Thanks to the requirements of the ayuntamiento, the 
curriculum taught at the schools was reasonably standard and 
included reading, writing, arithmetic, and Christian doc- 
trine according to the catechisms of Ripaldi and Fleury. 
The municipal free schools, however, added to their curri- 
culum sewing and embroidery for girls and industrial draft- 
ing for boys. The additi.on of these subjects shows how 

earnestly the ayuntamiento desired to prepare poor children 

9 2 
for productive work later in their adolescence. 

At the Schools of the Friends children were taught 

by tlie conventional classroom method. Lancastrian methodology 



213 



stressed mass education through constant activity designed 
to maintain the interest of the children. Classes were held 
in enormous rooms holding from 100 to 300 students. Desks 
for the teacher and classroom monitors stood at the head of 
the class. Rows of long tables with benches holding ten 
students each filled the classroom. In the middle of the 
first table stood a telegraph, a long pole topped by a 

metal frame which held a poster of the letter or number to 

93 
be learned during every class session. 

The children entered the classroom and stood at 
attention while the teacher inspected them for cleanliness. 
Afterward they marched to their assigned tables, knelt in 
unison and said their morning prayer. The beginning stu- 
dents sat at the first file of tables and practiced printing 
letters in the sand held in the depressed table tops. Inter- 
mediate students drew letters on blackboards. The most ad- 
vanced practiced printing and script with pen and paper. 
A decurion (student instructor) sat with each group of ten 
and monitored each student's work. In the afternoon each 
group sat in a semicircle around its decurion and repeated 
aloud and in unison the catechism and lessons in pronouncia- 
tion. Later the students returned to their benches for 
arithmetic lessons taught in the same fashion as the morn- 
ing's writing. Throughout the day the teacher functioned 

solely to insure the clock-like precisioned operation of 

94 
the gigantic class. Rapid advancement, prizes, and promotion 



214 



to dacurion rewarded the apt pupil. Punishments for the 
slower refractory included moderate paddlings, wearing 
burros' ears, the public recitation of personal faults, 
and incarceration in a mock jail. The punishments were 

not arbitrary, but precisely inscribed in the rules' and 

9 5 
regulations of the Lancastrian Company. 

The great advantage of the Lancastrian method was 
that one instructor could educate 200 to 1,000 students. 
Enrollments were large. The School of Philanthropy, the 
oldest and largest, enrolled 300 students. Another advan- 
tage was that a student could learn at his own pace. The 
length of time in which a student could complete all 
phases of study varied from eleven to eighteen months. 
The concept of Lancastrian education became so popular 
that the municipal schools and, judging from their size, 
those of the Society of Charity adopted it for their 
methodology. Municipal and national governments and the 
periodicals spared no efforts to popularize education at ■ 
the Lancastrian schools. Poor children received prizes 

of clothes or money. Final examinations and graduations 

9 5 
were public, and the best graduates received public awards. 

At one such ceremony held in 1843, General Santa Anna pre- 
sided, over the graduation of more than 400 students and 

9 7 
distributed gifts of money. 

The "aversion of the poor to education was immense." 

In some schools parents removed their children as soon as 



215 



they had learned to read and write, but before they had 

98 
learned arithmetic and the rudiments of Christian doctrine. 

At other times the parents objected forcefully to the 

corporal punishment of the children, threatening the 

99 
teacher with retaliation in kind. Most of the problems 

concerning children and parents were caused by poverty. 
Parents could not send their children to school promptly 
or regularly because they were unfed, lacked clothing, or 
were needed to work at home. Table 28 shows the atten- 
dance record of the students at the School of Friends in 
the barrio of Santa Cruz Acatlan. Attendance during the 
last six months of the year was nearly double that of the 
first six months. When the children of the poor did 
attend school, teachers complained that "heroic qualities" 
were necessary to overcome their students' "indolence, 
distraction, and slothf ulness . " A modern educator might 
attribute these same qualities to malnutrition or intestinal 
parisites. 

There were other obstacles to public education be- 
sides those created by the poor. The convent and early 

Lancastrian schools were located too far from the barrios 

1 01 
that needed them. Some teachers refused to educate the 

free students. At the municipal school of San Cosme, the 

instructor separated the free students from the paying 

■students on the pretext of separating the slow learners from 

the more rapid. He then ignored the free students. The 



216 



same instructor allowed only one out of six free applicants- 
to be enrolled in the school. The instructor of another 
school did not allow any free student to enroll. A sharp- 
eyed inspector discovered the violation when he noticed 

that although the school was located in a poor barrio, all 

102 
Its students wore shoes. 

A census taken in 1842 counted sixty licensed and 
forty-three unlicensed teachers in the city. A report 
read to the ayuntamiento in 1832 called many of the unli- 
censed teachers "ignorant men whose morality was not very 
refined." The report's author concluded that to entrust 
children to the care of these men was a misfortune but the 
greater misfortune would be to close the schools for lack 

of qualified teachers and to deprive the poor of any in- 

1 4 
struction. 

The greatest obstacle to public education was the 
poverty of the educational system itself. The Lancastrian 
and municipal schools labored under severe financial strain. 
Public subsidies were always in arrears, and private stu- 
dents failed to pay their fees. The financial difficulties 
affected the quality of instruction. In November 1840 the 
municipality owed the directors of the municipal free 
schools $2,500 in back salaries. Although they were bodily 
present in the classroom with their students, their spirits 
were home with their families wondering where the next meal 
would come from. Some of the free schools lacked textbooks 



217 



for all branches of instruction. The texts of others were 
so badly deteriorated as to be useless. None of the schools 
had the materials to teach sewing, and the few girls who 
learned sewing were the fortunate whose parents could pro- 
vide them with materials. For lack of the proper textbooks, 
it was impossible to teach Spanish grammar or industrial 
drafting. 

Education managed to seep down to the poor. Table 
N-1 shows the occupations of the parents of students attend- 
ing the municipal school located on the Street of the Seven 

1 06 
Princes. Twenty-four percent of the occupations were 

female, indicating that the fathers of the students were 

dead and that they were being supported solely by their 

mothers. The remaining male occupations indicated that the 

parents were poor. Thompson observed that servants and 

leperos had some knowledge of reading and writing and attri- 

10 7 

buted it to the Lancastrian system of education. Twenty- 
five percent of the six hundred men arrested for vagrancy 

between 1828 and 1851 could sign their names to the copies 

J- , . . 10 8 

or their testimony. 

Fanny Calderon de la Barca thought there existed "no 
country in the world where charities, both public and pri- 

1 9 

vate, are practiced on so noble a scale." Waddy Thompson, 
who was in Mexico at the same time as sehora de la Barca, 
gave an entirely different opinion of Mexican charity. 



218 



There are scarcely any of those institu- 
tions to which we are accustomed in all 
our principal cities. There are more of 
these, I have no doubt, in either of' 
the cities of Boston or Philadelphia 
than in Mexico J ' " 



Thompson's judgment is more suited to the facts. Philadel- 
phia, a city of 96,664 in 1810, possessed a large hospital 
and a dispensary whose staff visited the sick in their homes. 
Its almshouse housed over 1,200 inmates while the city dis- 
pensed poor relief to 2,500 more. ^ Conditions within all 
the public facilities surpassed the century's standards, and 

Philadelphia's system of public charity became a model for 

. - . . 112 
other cities to imitate. Sixteen private organizations 

as diverse as the Magdalen Society to Reform Prostitutes 

and the Female Society to Employ the Poor supplemented public 

1 13 
charity. In contrast to those of Philadelphia, the hos- , 

pitals and almshouse of Mexico City were ramshackle and 
overcrowded. Conditions within the prisons were comparable 
to most North American ones but twenty years behind those of 
France and England. At precisely the time when the public 
schools of North America were about to enter a great period 
of reform and expansion, those of Mexico City, although of 
noble inspiration, withered for lack of funds. During the 
entire period only two permanent private charitable associa- 
tions existed . 

In 1844 the Liceo mexicano criticized the indiffer- 
ence of wealthy Mexicans to public and private charity: 



219 



We live in a century of magnificence and 
of luxury. We procure the adornment of 
the cities and their splendor: sumptuous 
palaces, astonishing theaters, great sta- 
tues, elevated triumphal arches, columns, 
pyramids. Yet we watch the poor man ground- 
into the dirt, the sick suffering without 
aid, the abandoned illegitimate child, the 
prostituted orphan girl, and the naked and 
desolate widow die victims of misery. We 
have seen monuments erected, but not the 
establishment of hospitals and other char- 
itable institutions, millions consumed to 
fund public and even private gatherings in 
great luxury, but not one cent consecrated 
to the sake of humanity.^-''* 



Family 

Bereft of strong public institutions, the poor Mexi- 
can relied for psychological and material support upon his 
family, the most basic of human institutions. Table 29 
lists the types of households numbering more than one member 
that appeared on the random sample of the census of 1849. 
Nuclear families accounted for over 66 percent of the family 
types. The remaining 44 percent were over one hundred 
variations of the horizontally or vertically extended 
family or unrelated households. 

There is no way to assess objectively the quality of 
Mexican family relations. The following interpretation is 
based upon the impressions obtained from reading criminal 
and vagrancy records. Consequently it may err toward nega- 
tivism. Public law will be quoted only when it is thought 
to accurately reflect relevant social attitudes. 



220 



The reluctance of the poor to marry legally does not 
mean a liaison between a man and a woman was short or de- 
graded. One couple, for example, lived together for twenty 
years and had four children. Although they separated 
briefly, ].oneliness drove them back to each other. Pedro 
Escovedo, a stonecutter, lived with his partner for seven 
years and fathered four children. Their poverty prevented 
them from marrying formally. There was, however, a tendency 
for poor Mexicans of both sexes to engage in postmarital 
affairs. Family fights because of such daliances resulted 
from mutual jealousy or because the wife discovered her mate 
spending household money on his bastards. The court's ruling 

in one of these cases was that a man's primary obligation was 

1 1 5 
to his first family. 

The medieval Spanish law practiced in republican 
Mexico specified that the husband held the same authority 
over his family that a king held over his subjects. He 
therefore expected that his wife wait upon him hand and 
foot and resorted to corpora], punishment whenever his expec- 
tations were not met.. Wife beating was legal if justified 
by misbehavior. In two cases the courts acquitted men who 
had punished their wives for not washing clothes or pre- 
parxng the meals. Women accepted corporal punishment. 
The wife of Vicent Barreto withdrew charges of maltreatment 
against her husband by claiming that she had been beaten for 
good reason. Another woman stated that although her husband 



221 



beat her while he was drunk, he drank infrequently, was a 

1 1 o 

good provider, and gave her and her daughters a good life. 
Women preserved a sense of honor and self-respect 
.despite their husbands' recognized authority. Spanish law 

permitted women to deny their bodies to their husbands 

1 1 9 
whenever they felt physically indisposed. A Mexican 

court of conciliation surpassed the letter of the law in one 

case. A female plaintiff had angrily rebuffed the overtures 

of her husband one day when he came home from work early as 

I ' ■ 
sVie was in the midst of housework. " Her husband received 

a month in jail for the beating that followed. Another 
case illustrates the subtle boundaries between legitimate 
authority and abuse of personal honor. Jesus Castro came 
home to find his wife' wearing the white stockings and bright 
red shoes that he had forbidden her to buy because they 
were worn by prostitutes. Enraged, he called her a whore 
and burned her clothes. The court found that his wife x^as 
honorable and released Castro on condition that he apolo- 
gize and treat her well. His wife, in turn, promised to 
"obey him in every way," and her mother promised to help 

121 

the husband "in every way that she could." 

Custom and law made the husband the household's 
principal provider. Failure to provide for his wife and 
family was criminal vagrancy. Allegations of nonsupport 
always accompanied serious complaints of physical mistreat- 
ment. The testimony of Appollonio Calleja's wife reveals 



222 



the tangible benefits that a woman expected from her 
marriage. Her husband deceived her into marrying him by 
telling her that he was a journeyman pastry maker. She 
later discovered he was not even an apprentice. In four 
years of marriage the aggrieved wife claimed that she had 



no 



t received one-half real in support. During her pregnancy 



she had to beg for food. Poverty forced her to give up her 
little daughter. I-Jhen the infant died her husband would 
not even give her the half-real burial fee. After four 
years of starvation, lacking clothing, and brutal treatment, 

1 2 •' 

she left him. . 

The birth of a child was an extremely serious event. 
One pastry maker received twenty days off to assist his 
wife s delivery. Immediately after birth the attending 
midwife attempted to mold the baby's features by placing 
its head in a tortoise shell and lengthening its flat nose 
with her fingers. She then placed amulets in its hands 
to protect it from witches. - The mother took principal 

responsibility for educating the child for the first seven 

1 2 5 
years of its life. The Semanario Artistico, however, 

warned fathers to vigilantly watch their children and act 

as their moral guides because their wives were so carelessly 

126 
educated. Poor children often experienced neglect be- 
cause their parents who worked from dawn to dusk permitted 
them to wander all day in the streets learning vice and 
losing all respect for parental authority. 



223 



At about the age of seven, the traditional age of 
moral maturity, poor parents put their children to work per- 
forming household chores if female or earning money if male. 
The male child's earnings were an important part of the 

family income. The father possessed the legal right to 

1 2 8 
It and any property that his son might acquire. Naturally 

fathers desired to keep productive sons in the household 

until a very late age. Paternal possessiveness conflicted 

with both adolescent frivolity and the growing yearning of 

the young man for independence. The tension between father 

and son probably was the origin of the belief that a child 

who dies before the age of seven becomes an angel in heaven 

12 9 
because he had done nothing to offend his father. 

Widowed mothers were especially concerned with the 
behavior of their sons, who were their only source of in- 
come. Hardly a session of the Tribunal de Vagos passed 
without its hearing the case of an erring lad turned in by 
his mother. The mothers desired no more than that their, 
sons receive a lecture from the judge. Histrionic appeals 
followed the discovery that their sons faced seven years 
of military service. Maria Dominquez's plea illustrates the 
economic importance of her son to her. 



He is an obedient son upon whom I depend 
for food, and if through misfortune I 
loose him, I will uniustly be left to 

130 -J J 

starve. 



224 



It says much for the basic humanity of the magistrates that 
in all such cases the boys received a tongue lashing and were 
released to the custody of their mothers. 

"Law and nature" demanded that children respect 

1 31 
their parents absolutely. Even a widowed mother totaJ.ly 

dependent upon her son knew the respect owed her. When one 

mother returned to her room one night to find her adult son 

sleeping "with great satisfaction" between two whores, she 

packed him off to the Tribunal de Vagos. She later told the 

magistrates that although her son was not a vagrant, a night 

in jail and a good fright woiald teach him a badly needed 

132 
lesson. 

Eventually grown children did go off to start 
families of their owii. Many marriages or liaisons occurred 
without the consent of both families. Usually a young girl 
ran away from home to live with her boy friend. As a con- 
sequence, her partner became liable to charges of "illicit 
relations," "rape," or "kidnapping." Fathers, perhaps re- 
lieved at the disappearance of economically marginal members 
of their families, did not appear to press charges against 
men ],iving with their daughters. Mothers, however, did. 
Although one mother protested that she did not want her 
daughter to marry her lover, most wished to protect their 
daughters' interests by forcing a legal marriage. A legal 

marriage, according to one plaintiff, "would cover the honor 

133 
of her daughter so that no one would mock her." 



225 



The principal reason given for informal liaisons was 
the expense of a formal marriage, but others were also in- 
volved. Marriage in Catholic Mexico was for life. Accord- 
ing to one judge, requests for divorces appeared quite fre- 
quently, but the process was lengthy and unpleasant. While 
a canonical court investigated the complaint, honest women 
had to be incarcerated. Since convents refused to shelter 
them, they suffered the degradation of residence in the 

1 3 4 

Acordada. Many liaisons between the young were in the 
character of trial marriages to avoid the pitfalls of divorce. 
One pregnant seventeen-year-old broke up with her lover when 
she discovered that he was stingy with the household money. 
Another lived with her mate for a year before discovering 

his "evil habits." Not wishing to marry him, she requested 

13 5 
the courts make a settlement of their common property. 

The high percentage of extended families indicates 
their importance to the poor. Poor men supported destitute 
relatives whenever it was possible. Judging from the fre- 
quency of fights between relatives over money, the extended 
family was the primary source of small loans. Because, of 
the bonds of an extended family, private life within a nu- 
clear family could not exist. Appollonio Calleja's brothers- 
in-law, for example, beat him frequently for mistreating his 
wife. 

The extended family was of fundamental importance ■ 
in dealing with other portions of society. It protected its 



226 



members that found themselves in trouble with the law. One 
■alcalde sarcastically reported that the mob of witnesses 
testifying on behalf of an accused swore that they were 
unrelated to the defendant. In another incident a young 
man was arrested for threatening to kill his wife and 
mother-in-law. The mother-in-law, a maid in a judge's house- 
hold, had the youth arrested. A week later her employer was 
shocked to discover her asking for a $3 advance in her wages 
to contribute to the obra buena (bribe) that was to obtain 
her son-in-law's release. The extended family used any 
connection to the administrative system for its own purposes. 
One alcalde had his sons-in-law falsely testify against a 
young man who was seeing his daughter. The young man's family 
convinced the Tribunal of the lad's good character by swamp- 
ing it with the testimony of over twenty presumably unre- 

1 37 
lated witnesses. 

Compadrazco, or fictive kinship, existed but was in 
decline. Garcia Cubas reported that prospective god- 
parents of relative wealth and position often refused ties 

13 9 
of compadrazco unless the friendship was very strong. 

According to Rivera Cambas , the casera of the casa de vecln- 
dad was the comadre of all its residents. Because of the 
short tenancies of most of the vecindad' s occupants, it is 
reasonable to assume that the parents of the child selected 
her only to meet the requirements of the baptismal certifi- 
cate. 



227 



Where ties of compadrazco did exist, they supplemented 
the extended family as a system of support. The natural 
parents of a child could, because of their poverty, surrender 
the legal custody of a child to its godparents. When the 
child reached adolescence, he could choose to resume living 
With his natural parents. Children of both sexes sought 

shelter from family problems by running away and residing 

. , , . , 14 1 
with their godparents. Good godparents then mediated 

the disputes between parents and children. Godparents also • 
obeyed the injunction to protect the child when its parents 
died. When Benita Anguina's lover beat her, her godfather 
paid him four reals to leave the neighborhood and later 
brought him before the Tribunal. Poverty limited the ef- 
fectiveness of a godparent. The godmother of one sixteen- 
year-old girl could not support her and had to entrust her 
charge to a neighbor who subsequently neglected the girl.'^'^^ 
The compadrazco system also linked families with the adminis- 
tration. The corrupt alcalde of Minor Ward 28 established 
ties of compadrazco with a band of cutthroats operating in 
his ward. In return for a share of the loot, the alcalde 
would free the bandits whenever they were arrested. ^ "^^ 

A casera and laundress once told Robert Wilson a 
moving tale of family disintegration. Unbound by the ties 
of a church marriage, her husband had deserted her and her 
four children. A press gang carried off her eldest son, 
and a stray bullet killed her daughter during a revolution. 



228 



Imprisoned for a drunken brawl, her eldest son was performing 
forced labor. Her remaining daughter was unmarriageable be- 
cause she lacked the money for a wedding. Despite her mis- 
fortunes, the casera considered herself fortunate to have 
secure employment and free lodgings. Wilson judged the 
story to be fanciful, but containing elements of truth. 

Appendix lists six families appearing both on the 
census of 1842 and 1849 and illustrates that death and the 
departure of grown children could mutate a family within a 
seven-year period. The rapid mutation did not destroy sin- 
cere feelings of tenderness between parents and children. 
The impression from the vagrancy and criminal records is 
that most families tried to develop an esprit de corps to 
carry -on the struggle for survival. Mothers were par- 
ticularly saddened by the deaths of their children. Ob- 
serving the grieving mother of a dead child, Luis de Bellemar 

commented, "The angel taken to heaven could not replace the 

T , 1,145 

one lost on earth." When the little boy who Brantz 

Mayer had fed and clothed died, his impoverished mother 

arranged a simple but touching f uneral. "^ '^'^ The child's 

body was placed on a rose-bedecked tray, his hands crossed 

over his chest and bound by a thread of gold, and artificial 

flowers sprinkled over his body. Watching the sad event, 

Mayer concluded that "these people are not as degraded as 

they appear to be." 



229 



Notes 



Thompson, p. 19.].. 

2 ^ 
Dub Ian and Lozano, tomo 4, ley 2 313. 

^ Ibid. , ley 2590. . 

4 
AACM, tomo 4151, exp . 4; tomo 4155, exp . 228. 

AACM, tomo 4151, exp. 6. 

AACM, tomo 4155, exp. 228; tomo 4157, exp. 207. 
7 

AACM, tomo 4155, exp. 231-47; tomo 3275, exp. 115. 
8 

Bus tamante, Apuntes, p. 7. 

Salado Alvarez, p. 10. 

I 

Thompson, p. 288. 

I I 

Mora, Mexico, tomo 3, p. 35 8. 

1 2 

"Monstrosidad liberal," Monitor Republicano, 13 fe- 
brero 1848, p. 4. 

Garcia Cubes (1945), p. 473. 

14 

AGN, "Archivo Historico de Guerra." 

1 5 

Thompson, p. 169. 

16,, 

Instruccion general," Scmanario Artistico , 27 agosto 
1844, p. 1. 

17 

Mayer, p. 286. 

1 8 

Bustamante, Apuntes , p. 7. 

1 9 

Zamacois, tomo 11, pp. 48-49. 

AACM, torao 2294, exp. 30. 

2 1 

"Estado de insti tuciones publicas," Siglo Diez y 
Nueve, 4 octubre 1849, p. 3. 

^"Tylor, pp. 251, 252. 

23 

Calderon de la Barca, pp. 535, 541. 

AACM, tomo 2299, exp. 30. 
25 

AACM, tomo 229 7, exp. 7; tomo 3686, exp. 35. 
26 ,, 

Hospital de San /Vndres," Eco de Comercio , 14 marzo 
1848, p. 4. 

27 

Kaplow, p. 95. Thompson, p. 5. 
AACM, tomo 3890, exp. 2. 



1. 



230 



2 9 

"Remitido," Siglo Diez y Nueve , 17 diciembre 1844, 



30 

AACM, tomo 3890, exp . 2. The calculation is based 

on a population estimate of 180,000. 

3 1 

AACM, tomo 3686, exp. 35. 

" 32 ^ 

Dub Ian and Lozano, tomo 4, ley 2273. 

" Prieto (1964) , pp. 70, 220. . 

34 

AACM, tomo 3686, exps . 35, 37. 

35 

AACM, tomo 3686, exp. 33. 

3 6 

C. A. Hutchinson, "The Asiatic Cholera Epidemic in 
1833 in Mexico," Bulletin of the History of Medicine, January- 
February, 1968, pp. 1-23. 

^AACM, tomo 3686, exp. 4. 

3 8 

Ibi d . 

3 9 

Ihid. 

'^'■'prieto (1964), p. 69. 

4 1 

Orozco y Berra, Bstado, p. 57. 

4 2 

AACM, tomo 4152, exp. 73. 

43 

Mayer, p. 55. Thornton, p. 62. 

'''^Prieto (1948), p. 97. 
45 ,, 

Estado de instituciones publicas," Siglo Diez y 
Nueve, 4 octubre 1849, p. 3. 

4 6 

AACM, tomo 4152, exp. 73. 

47 

Mmisterio de lo Interior, Memoria de 1838 (Mexico 
D.F. , 1838) , p. 40. 

48 

Juan B. Peza, La heneficencia en Mexico (Mexico, D.F., 
1881) . Prieto (1948) , p. 97. 

49 

Peza, p. 150. 

50 

Malo, tomo 2, p. 219. 

51 ^ 

Orozco y Berra, Estado, pp. 13-14, 24. 

5 2 

Calderon de la Barca, p. 519. Kaplow, p. 63. 
• 5 3 

Orozco y Berra, Estado, p. 36. Calderon de la 
Barca, pp. 531-32. 

5 4 

Ihi d. 



55 
56 



"Estado," p. 3. Orozco y Berra, Estado, pp. 38-39. 
Orozco y Berra, Estado, pp. 36-37. 



231 



Garcia Cubas (1945), pp. 233-34. 

5 8,, 

"Estado," p. 3. 

^'^Garcia Cubas (1945), p. 234. 
Tylor, p. 246. 
Mayer, pp. 268-70. 

6 2 

Tyl.or, p. 244. Cal.deron de la Barca, p. 53. 

"Estado," p. 3. 

^"'' Tylor, p. 244.' Garcia Cubas (1945), p. 244. 

AACM, tomo 497, exps. 163, 165; tome 298, "Actas 
de 17 diciembre 1841." 

"Remitido," Siglo Diez y Nueve , 9 enero 1844, p. 3. 

- "carcia Cubas (1945), p. 235. 

"Remitido," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 9 enero 18'44, p. 3. 

6 9 

Mayer, pp. 268-70. 

Mason, vol. 1, p. 84. AACM, tomo 12 72. 
'^Garcia Cubas (1945), p. 237. 

^'"Estado," p. 3. . 

73 

"Remitido," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 29 octubre 1841, p. 

4. Ibid., 9 noviembre 1841, p. 2. 

'aACM, tomo 2889, "Contra Candalario Avila, 1852"; 

tomo 2892, "Contra Camilio Guerrero, 1852"; tomo 2892, "25 

octubre 1852." 

75 , . 

J. J. Tobias, Crime and Industrial Society in 

Nineteenth-Century London (New York, 1967). AACM, tomo 3719, 

exp . 63. ■ 

^ AACM, tomo 2892, "Contra Juan Baltierra, 1852." 

7 7 

"Nuestros artesanos," p. 3. 

7 R 

Bazant, Alienation, pp. 90-91. 

79 ^ ' \ 

Manuel Ramirez Arriega, las procuradurias de pobres 

(Mexico, D.F. , 1950) , p. 8. 
Thornton, p. 62. 

Thompson, pp. 128-29. 

82 

Secretarla de Estado de Fomento, Colonizacion , In- 

dustria y Comercio, Memoria de 1857 (Mexico, D.F., 1857), p. 

8. 

AACM, tomo 2892, "Contra Macedonio Flores, 1852." 



232 



84 

AACM, tomo 2478, exps . 29, 297. 

Q r 

"Populacho," p. 450. 
■ 8 6,, ^ 

Educacion moral," Semanario Artistico, 9 febrero 
1844, p. 1. 

87 , . " 

Ibid. 

"El trabajo," p. 1. 

8 9 . ■ 

Estrada. 

AACM, tomo 2478, exp . 298. 

9 1 

■ ■ AACM tomo 2479, exp. 389; tomo 2480, exp. 4721/2. 

92 

AACM, tomo 2480, exp. 280; tomo 2479, exp. 386. 
93 

Garcia Cubas (1945), p. 404. Estrada, pp. 498-505. 

9 4 

Ibid. 

■ 95 

Garcia Cubas (1945), p. 406. 
96 

Estrada, pp. 495, 497. Also personal conversation 
with senora T. de Estrada, December 1, 1972. 

97 

Malo, tomo 1, p. 231. 

AACM, tomo 2478, exp. 327. 
99 

Estrada, p. 512. 

AACM, tomo 24 78, exp. 379. 
1 01 

Ibid., exp. 386. "Remitido," Sol, 21 febrero 1830 
p. 1. 

"AACM, tomo 2478, exp. 327. 
1 3 

A^VCM, tomo 162, "Actas de 2 junio 1842." 

AACM, tomo 2478, exp. 303. 

AACM, tomo 2479, exp. 379. - 

106 

The table is copied from senora de Estrada's article. 

107 

Thompson, pp. 152-53. 
10 8 

AACM, tomos 4151-56, 4778-884, 

109 

Calderon de la Barca, p. 285. 

110 ■ • 

Thompson, p. 148. 

1 1 1 

James Mease, The Picture of Philadelphia (Philadel- 
phia, Pennsylvania, 1811), p. 15. 

112 ■ ■ 

Sidney Pomerantz, New York: An American City, 1783- 
1803 (New York, 1938), pp. 297-354. 

1 1 3 

Mease, p. 16. 



233 



] 1 4 

Liceo mexicano , torao 2, p. 

1 1 5 



AACM, tomo 2891, "Contra Manuel Perez, 6 febrero 
1852"; "Contra Pedro Escovedo, 3 marzo 1852"; tomo 4154, exp . 
153. 

116 

Rodriguez de San Miguel, Pandectas hispano- 

megicanos . . . (Mexico ,' D. F. , 1840), ley 2737. 

I 1 7 

AACM, tomo 2891, "Contra Luis Guzman, 3' abril 

1852"; tomo 2892, "Contra Mariano Espinosa, 3 enero 1852." 

AACM, tomo 4778, exp. 307H; tomo 4781, exp. 364. 

119 

Rodriguez de San Miguel, Pandectas, ley 2691. 

12 

AACM, tomo 2891, Contra Domingo Heriz, 4 octubre 



1852." 
1851." 



1 21 

AACM, torao 2760, "Contra Jesus Castro, 2 marzo 



^^"AACM, tomo 4151, exp. 37. 
' ' " AACM, tomo 4152, exp. 80. 

Garcia Cubas (1945), p. 183. 
AACM, tomo 3689, exp. 43. 

126 

Educacion moral," p. 1. 

1 2 7 

"Vagos," Semanario Artistico, 11 abril 1844, p. 1. 

128 

Rodriguez de San Miguel, Pandectas , ley 2813. 

129 

Bellemar, pp. 25-29. 

AACM, tomos 462, 4784. 

13 1,^ 

Rodriguez de San Miguel, Pandectas, ley 2813. 

132 

AACM, torao 4153, exp. 10 7. 

13 3 

AACM, tomo 2889, "Contra Benito Laya , 15 junio 1852." 
1 3 4 

AACM, tomo 496, exp. 106. 

135 

AACM, tomo 2889, "Contra Luis Viera, 12 septiembre 

1852"; "Contra .Jose Bustamante, 3 febrero 1852." 
'aACM, tomo 3690, exp. 66. 
■ AACM, tomo 4151, exp. 24. 

1 3 8 

Manuel L. Carlos and Lois Sellers, "Family, Kinship 
Structure, and Modernization in Latin America," Latin American 
Research Review, Summer, 1972, pp. 98-99. 

Garcia Cubas (1945), p. 182. 

AACM, tomo 2760, "Diligencias , 2 marzo 1849." 



234 



] 41 

AACM, tomo 2890, "Contra Angela Floras, 17 julio 

1852"; tomo 4154, exp . 212. 

1-1 2 

AACM, tomo 4154, exp. 159; tomo 4781, exp. 369. 

^■"^^AACM, tomo 391, exp. 34. 

144 

Wilson, p. 286. 

'14 5 

Bellemar, p. 29. 

146 

Mayer, pp. 56-57. 



CHAPTER FIVE ■ 
RELIGION AND RECREATION 



For the poor who are without schools, 
without workshops , and often without 
work to support life, the service that 
the Mexican clergy has provided to the 
nation is very great — maintaining the 
populations in a subordination that 
would not have been possible without 
the powerful influence of religion. 

—Luis G. Cuevas, 1850 



Religion 

The Church was omnipresent. In a city o£ "severe" or 

"chaste" secular architecture, the religious buildings were 

1 
"striking." Through their towering, ornate splendor, the 

convents and the churches conveyed the power and majesty of 
the Roman Catholic faith to the city. Their spires rising 
high above private and public buildings proclaimed the omni- 
potence of God in the world of man. The exquisite carvings of 
the exterior walls or the interior chapels with plated and 
carved panels, colorful images, and paintings were, especially 
for the poor, the only glimpse of beauty in a drab and ugly 



235 



236 



world. Decades after most of the convents and monasteries 
had become the victi.ms of reform and modernization, men who 

passed their childhoods in the first decades of the nineteenth 

2 
century would write lovingly and sadly of a vanished glory. 

The pealing bells of the Church overwhelmed the public 

psychology. During the hours of prayer they inspired the 

population with a "superstitious fervor."' Guillerrao Prieto 

described the sound of church bells ringing during the 

earthquake reverberations of St. Cecilia's Day, 1840, as 

4 
apocalyptic. During the cholera epidemic of 1833, their 

mournful tolling "infused the stricken popu.l.ation with such 

terror that the aijuntamiento prohibited the practice." 

The clergy was highly visible. Thompson observed "an 

equal number of officers, soldiers, leperos , priests, and 

friars--all equally useless." The mendicant friars of the 

street were Guillermo Prieto 's "great distraction and pleasure." 

The most prestigious proved their holiness and wisdom by the 

raggedness of their habits, uncombed hair, filthy hands, and 

7 

unshaven faces. Nobody could ignore the carriage, each door 
adorned with a painting of an enormous eye, escorted by sol- 
diers and lay brothers ringing bells, carrying priests bringing 

8 
the host to sick or dying Christians. 

The Archdiocese of Mexico City oversaw the ecclesias- 
tical affairs of the entire nation. In addition to its 
suffragan bishoprics, it had under its direct responsibility 
a large, irregular area extending to Tampico in the northeast, ■ 



237 



9 
Acapulco in the west, and Vera Cruz m the east. It super- 
vised the affairs of nineteen of the capital's twenty-one 
nunneries and eleven colleges and chaplaincies. Its com- 
ponent offices included a secretariat, the metropolitan pro- 

visorate and council, the court of testaments, chaplaincies 

1 
and pious works, and the accountancy and treasury. The 

mitre, the popular name for the office of the archbishop, 

staffed and administered the hospitals of San Andres, San 

Hip5lito, and San Lazaro . 

The capital contained fourteen parishes. The Sagrario, 

the oldest and largest parish, was founded in 1523 to serve 

] 1 
the needs of the Spaniards. Its territory covered most of 

the original Traza . Its parish church on the eastern side of 

the national cathedral symbolized its primacy. San Miguel, 

founded in 1690, occupied later extensions of the Traza. 

Parishes serving the barrios rimmed the edges of the Traza . 

San Antonio de las Huertas on the extreme southeastern fringes 

1 2 
of the city was depopulated by the end of the colonial period. 

Table 30 presents the population of the parishes according 
to the Spanish census of 1816. 

Because the parish church was a focus of public atten- 
tion and because its records were until 1840 the only source 
of census data and civil records, it served occasionally as 
a, secular administrative unit. In 1824 and 1828 the parishes 

were the electoral districts for national and municipal elec- 

1 3 
tions. In 1825 the parish church publicized and served as 



2-M 



the, center for a smallpox vaccination campaign. During the 
dreadful winter currency devaluation of 1841, it became the 
unit from which the municipality distributed poor relief/^ 
Until Spain formally recognized the independence of 
Mexico in 1840, the nation lacked an archbishop . ^ ^' The 
archljishopric's staff, however, remained and functioned nor- 
mally. Guidebooks published in 1841 and 1851 listed 51 and 

1 7 

47 persons assigned to the mitre's staff. The "Libro de 
inscripcion," an ecclesiastical register of 1851, listed 304 

■ clergy staffing the offices of the archbishop and the 

18 
colleges. It is unclear, however, whether the "Libro" in- 
cludes the names of deceased clergy and clergy who had once 
served on the staff but had since been reassigned ."^ ' 

The number of regular clergy was slowly diminishing 
as vocations declined and the professed died. In 1835 Mora, 
referencing government reports, claimed that 1,688 monks and 
911 nuns existed in the entire nation." The guidebook of 
1851 listed only 91 monks in Mexico City. These were 44 

Franciscans, 17 Angus tinians , 15 Diegans, 12 Carmelites, and 

2 I 
3 Mercedarians. Table 31 lists the twenty-one female 

orders, not including the Sisters of Charity, that existed 
in the capital in 1861. The largest nunneries were La Encar- 
nacion and La Concepcion. The total population of the con- 
vents was 561. The Sisters of Charity,' who arrived in Mexico 
City in 1843, supervised and staffed the municipal hospitals."^ 



239 



The guidebooks list three priests assigned to the 
Sagrario and one priest to each of the remaining parishes." 
This was an absurdly insufficient number to attend to a popu- 
lation of 180,000. The "Libro de inscripcion, " however, re- 
cords at .least one priest and a vicar assigned to twelve of 
the parishes, Soledad de Santa Cruz, although .lacking a 

2 4 

priest, possessed three vicars. San Antonio de las Huertas 
possessed one priest but no vicars. More clergy actually 
occupied themselves in parish work. A document from 1846 
mentions seventeen priests assigned to the Sagrario ."''' The 
parish records show that clergy from the Mercedarian monas- 
tery and the mitre regularly performed duties in the smaller 

- , 26 
parishes . 

The random sample of the census of 1849 shows that 
the clergy residing outside the convents amounted to 1 percent 
of the adult male population. This percentage indicates the 
presence of approximately 320 secular and regular clergy in 

27 

the capital. In 1841, however, members of the ayuntamiento 
reported to Thompson that 2,800 secular and regular clergy 
resided in the capital." Thompson's figure is probably 
nearer the truth. Be;cause of the growing hostility between 
church and state, the Church had good reason to mislead 
the compilers of guidebooks and the census takers. 

In 1857 Edward Tylor reported that the Church owned 
one half of the property of Mexico City and received an 
income of ten million pesos a year. Were it evenly distri- 



240 



buted, he added, every cleric would receive one thousand pesos 

9 9 

annually. This was a popiular notion of Church wealth 
discredited by the research of Michael Costeloe and Jan 
Bazant. During the Napoleonic wars, bankrupt Spanish Bourbons 
had sequestered many Church properties and endoiiTments . Al- 
though the Church, particularly the convents, owned con- 
siderable real property in Mexico City (presented in Table 32) , 
physical deterioration, the extensive failure of tenants to 
pay rent, and illiquidity within the depressed economy limited 

its practical value. Much of it also was pledged as 

30 
collateral to back the bonds of bankrupt regimes. After 

1833 the government abolished the mandatory tithes that 
were an important source of clerical income. Facing a 
diminishing income, the Church perceived itself as waging a 
constant struggle to maintain the traditional standards for 
proper worship. 

The straitened circumstances of the Church affected 
the poor. Its inability to expand or repair buildings contri- 
buted to the depression of the construction industry that 
lasted from 1824 to 1857. The Church reluctantly engaged 
in charitable activities. After 1824 the hospital of the 

Franciscan Terciaries was the only one funded and supervised 

3 2 
by a religious order. During the 1833 cholera epidemic, 

the ayuntamiento asked the nunneries and monasteries to con- 
tribute money for relief. Not one responded. Only the 
monastery of La Merced estabJ.ished an emergency hospital at 



241 



the request of the city. The mitre and the parishes also 

3 3 

established emergency hospitals. " Although the archbishop 
established a cholera hospital during the 1850 epidemic, 
it could not have been a very large one. In the combined 
dioceses of Mexico, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Michoacan, and 

3 4 

Chiapas, only 7,648 patients received treatment." Cholera 
sickened 36,000 in Mexico City alone. 

Education was the constitutional responsibility of 
the ayuntamiento , but even Conservatives were of the opinion 
that the establishment of schools by the nunneries and 

monasteries would be just "recompense" for the property and 

3 5 
money that society had bestowed upon them. The religious 

orders, however, did not view requests to establish schools 
enthusiastically. In 1823 the office of the archbishop, 
speaking for the convents, pled their poverty. The convents, 
according to their defender, justified their existence by 
performing acts of penance and mercy and by preparing young 
girls to be good mothers or servants. Prodded by the anti- 
clerical regime of Gomez Farias (1833-1834), eight religious 
orders established schools. Eight years later only five 
existed. In 1842 the ayuntamiento complained that the re- 
maining schools were poorly advertised and inconveniently 
located. That year the monastery of San Diego informed the 
ayuntamiento that it was closing down its school. The con- 
vent, wrote its rector, was short on members, lacked trained 
personnel, and did not wish to be submitted to the degradation 



242 



of secular visitation. Shortly afterward San Juan de la 

37 
Penitencia refused to establish schools on similar grounds. 

The parishes of the city were under heavy financial 

strain. Efforts to remain solvent focused upon the poor. 

According to Mora, the greater part of Church tithes 

supported the upper clergy who lived in idleness and luxury. 

The parish priest, deprived of his fair share, depended 

upon excessively high parish fees to fund worship and to 

support himself. High marriage fees discouraged matrimony 

and stimulated incontinency . The burial fee was the "worst 

and most immoral" transaction. After the grief-stricken 

family had exhausted its resources caring for the deceased, 

the priest took advantage of the circumstances to charge 

■5 

dearly for a Christian burial." The ayuntamiento reiterated 

3 9 
this charge when it banned parish burials in 1834. 

The question of parish fees is more complex than 

Mora would have it. The Church pursued an equivocal policy. 

A pamphlet in 1840 admitted that the abolition of separate 

schedules for whites, castes, and Indians following 

independence had created confusion regarding proper charges. 

To clarify matters it advised priests to charge the higher 

fees formerly restricted to Spaniards but reprinted an edict 

of 1721 ordering priests to provide free sacraments to the 

poor. Since the pamphlet was advisory" in nature, compliance 

4 
was a matter of conscience. 



243 



In Mexico City marriage fees were excessive. The 
priest of "Santa Catarina Martir charged $6,6 for a wedding — 
a sum equivalent to a poor man's life savings. High illegiti- 
macy rates indicate that the poor did not marry in the Church. 
Young men arrested for living with a woman without the con- 
sent of her parents usually pleaded that they "lacked suffi- 
cient resources" for a marriage. 

Baptismal and burial fees were reasonable. Baptisms 
at Santa Catarina cost a minimum of one real, an extremely 

low fee considering the seriousness of the charges leveled 

42 
against the Church. Table 33 shows the disproportionate 

number of baptisms in the smaller parishes. The smaller 
parishes of the city may have competed with the larger 
parishes for baptismal revenues. 

The smaller parishes charged low burial fees. Imme- 
diately after the city banned parish burials, six parish • 
priests complained to the ayuntamiento . They admitted their 
total dependence upon burial fees but pointed out that the 
charge was no more than four reals; the extremely poor 
were buried without charge. The cost of burials at the 
Panteon of Santiago Tlatelolco, continued the priests, varied 
from $4 to $8 because frightened cargadores charged extremely 
high fees to carry bodies.. In the Sagrario, however, burial 
fees were high, and the needy were denied free burial. l«Jhen 
the municipality investigated a complaint made against the 
Sagrario in 1846, its notary grudgingly admitted that the cost 



244 



of maintaining seventeen priests necessitated high charges 
■and the discouragement of free burials. 

The real villain of the burial-fee controversy was 

the mitre itself. In 1846 the ayuntamiento rebuked it for 

charging the families of prisoners who died in the municipal 
hospitals a two-real burial fee. Since the families of the 

deceased were destitute, the municipality requested that the 
mitre "have the Christian charity" to provide free burials.'*'^ 
In 1849 Santa Paula, the cemetery of the hospital of San 
Andres became the municipal cemetery. It charged a burial 
fee of twelve reals. The complaint of Father Zarate of Santa 
Catarxna Martir against the cemetery reveals the incredibly 
degrading conditions which the poor experienced. The gist 
of Father Zarate 's complaint was that Santa Paula refused to 
accept the bodies of paupers. The hospital was so mean as 
to return the bodies of abandoned infants to the parishes 
where they had been discovered. The father wrote specifically 
on behalf of one Manuel Buenrostro whom, contrary to municipal 
and canon law, he had permitted to beg at the church doors 
to collect his mother's burial fees. Although Buenrostro 
collected nine reals, the cemetery refused his mother's 
body. The lad stayed begging at the church door for two more 
days, the rotting body of his mother by his side, before 
collecting the full sum."*^ 



245 



It is strange how all the world over 
mankind seems to expect from those 
who assume religion as a profession 
a degree of superhuman perfection. 
Their failings are insisted upon. 
Every eye is upon them to mark what- 
soever may be amiss in their conduct. 
Their virtues, their learning, their 
holy lives — nothing will avail them 
if one blot, can be discovered' in 
their character. In the Catholic re- 
ligion, where more is professed, still 
more is demanded, and the errors of 
one padre or ecclesiastic seems to 
throw a shade over the whole community 
to which they belong.'' 



Fanny Calderon de la Barca's musings reflected the 
generally poor reputation of the capital's regular clergy. 
Mercedarian fathers labored tirelessly in the barrios, the 
"pale nuns" in the declining convents led lives of "privation 
and virtue," and after 1843 the Sisters of Charity won the 
respect of the most anticlerical Liberals; but the antics 
of a few scoundrels blackened the reputations of all. Tales 
of monkish misconduct abounded. Based on his experiences in 
Mexico City, Luis de Bellemar invented the fictional Fray 
Sarapio. The picaresque friar, an inveterate gambler and 

aficionado of the bull ring, hid when called upon to confess 

47 
the dying. The friar was imaginary, but monks like him 

existed. Guillermo Prieto wrote of the Franciscan who sang 

so sweetly that "he could melt rocks" and of the Mercedarian 

who, attired as a rakish bandito, regularly quenched his 

thirst m the pulguerlas . When a man was stabbed to death 

near the monastery of San Francisco., those seeking a confessor 



2 46 



inside of it discovered that all the monks save one who 

was old and bed ridden were at home with their families or 

49 
fast as].eep. 

A scandal occurred in 1849 when the monks of the 
monastery of San Agustin scrawled "convinced whores" across 
the walls of the hospital of San Pablo, administered by the 
highly respected Sisters of Cliarity. An investigation by 
the ayuntamiento revealed that the Augustinians had been 
holding nightly revels with leperos in the Plaza de San 
Pablo. Their antics disturbed the hospital's patients, but 
the abbess superior refused to complain in fear of creating 
bad publicity for the city's religious. The abbess finally 
protested after a monk entered the hospital under the decep- 
tion of confessing a sick patient and seduced a maid. Her 
complaints to the rowdy monks were greeted with howls of 
derision and a shower of rocks. Later they retaliated with 
the obscenity. The apology of the Augustinian' s elderly 
prior, himself innocent, resolved the incident. 

In 1848 Siglo Diez y Nueve published a complaint 
against' the behavior of Padre Aguilar, the priest of an 
unspecified parish who only resided in the capital on week- 
ends when he collected his fees and gave Mass. Poorly 
guarded by a feeble-minded sacristan, the church fell as 
an easy prey to thieves. The padre had even refused to 
contribute $3 for the establishment of a school." 



247 



TABLE 30 
POPULATION OF PARISHES, CENSUS OF 1816 



Sagrario 

San Miguel 

Santci Catarina 

Santa Vera Cruz 

San Jose 

Santa Ana 

Santa Cruz y Soledad 

San Sebastian 

Santa Miiria 

San Pablo 

Santa Cruz Acatlan 

Salto del Agua 

Santo Tomas de las Palmas 

San Antonio de las Huertas 



50,000 

24,000 

20,000 

8,000 

4,000 

6,000 

18,000 

6,000 

4,000 

8,000 

4,000 

.6,000 

' 6,000 

4,000 



SOURCE ; 



AACM, leg. 873, exp . 2, 



TABLE 31 
POPULATION OF NUNNERIES, 1861 



Encarnacion . 44 

Concepcion 36 

Capuchinas 35 
Ensenanza Antigua 35 

Re gin a 30 

San Lorenzo 30 

Jesus Maria 29 

Santa Brigida 28 

Balvanera 27 

San Jeronimo 26 

Santa Isabel 25 



Santa Catalina de Sena 25 

San Bernardo 23 

Santa Clara 22 

Santa Teresa la Antigua 22 

San Juan de la Penitencia 22 

Santa Teresa la Nueva 21 

Ensenanza la Nueva 21 

Corpus Cristi 19 

Santa Ines 17 

San Jose de Gracia 22 



SOURCE: Antonio Garcia Cubas, El libro de mis recuerdos (Mexi- 
co, D.F. , 1945) , p. 38. 



248 



TABLE 32 
VALUE OF CORPORATE PROPERTIES IN THE CITY OF MEXICO, 1846 



Corporation 



Properties 



Value 



20 nunneries 
11 monasteries 
Colleges 
Congregations & 

brotherhoods 
Hospitals 
Pious works 



1,024 
193 
12 2 

157 

96 

57 



$9,758,123 

1,307,645 

809,836 

1,231,984 

1,067,076 
367,287 



SOURCE: Jan Bazant, Alienation of Church Wealth in Mexico, 
trans. Michael P. Costeloe (Cambridge, . 19 71) , p. 94, Table i 



TABLE 33 
BAPTISMS, 1842 



Parish 



Population 



Baptisms 



Rate 



Sagrario 

San Miguel 

Santa Catarina 

Santa Vera Cruz 

San Jose 

Santa Ana 

Santa Cruz . y Soledad 

San Sebastian 

Santa Maria 

San Pablo 

Santa Cruz Actlan 

Salto del Agua 

Santo Tomas de la 

Palma 
San Antonio de las 

Huertas 



50,000 


1,499 


29.98 


24,000 


435 


18.00 


20,000 


680 


34.00 


8,000 


605 


75.00 


4,000 


509 


127.00 


6,000 


159 


2 7.00 


18,000 


763 


42.00 


6,000 


438 


7 3.00 


4,000 


178 


45.00 


8,000 


603 


75.00 


4,000 


60 


15.00 


6,000 


511 


40.00 



6,000 



4,000 



172 



39 



29.00 



10.00 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census 
of 1816, AACM, tomo 873. 



Per thousand. 



249 



The conduct of Padre Aguilar was the exception. 
"Thompson, a pronounced anti-Catholic, wrote that one might 
alwa^'S expect charity at a priest's home."^'^ Mora, the 
period's most noted anti cleric, penned this sympathetic ' 
description of the parish priest and his duties: 



A parish priest has no secure hour or 
moment of rest, since he can be called 
in less time than one thinks a con- 
siderable distance in the middle of 
the strongest rains or the burning 
rays of the torrid sun or the rigors 
of the frigid zone to aid the sick. 
He has to perform the burials, baptisms, ' 
and marriages and prepare the certifi- 
cates for all of them, and he cannot 
even, considering all this, rest on a 
festival day which is under his 
supervision. He works by necessity, 
traveling hungry many leagues in order 
to give Mass at points many miles apart. ^"'' 



His earlier target of criticism was ecclesiastical funding, 
not the parish clergy themselves. 

The poor stood in awe of the clergy and their reli- 
gion. A colonial official wrote that when the archbishop 
passed in his carriage, the plebe would remain kneeling for 
minutes in a "most humble and blind deference." The 
parish clergy's influence among the poor was' so great that 

the aguntamiento asked them to publicize the 1825 smallpox 

^ • , - ■ . 55 

vaccination drive m its sermons. Clerical misconduct 

did not diminish the respect of the poor for the regulars. 

Bellemar wrote of Fray Sarapio: 



250 



Only the friar could walk carelessly 
among the city's thieves and cutthroats, 
and the slightest movement of his san- 
dal inspired more respect than the 
rattle of the policeman's saber. 

Like domesticated tigers, many 
thronged to kiss the hand of Fray 
Sarapio.^'' . 



When a priest walked by, carrying the Host, all passers-by 
observed the "almost mandatory practice of genuflecting." 
Protestant foreigners on their first visit to Mexico City 

heard tales of the North American shoemaker who was murdered 

5 7 
when he refused to kneel. 

The priest was the absolute authority on the word of 

God. Thompson asked Mexicans of all classes if they 

believed that the real body of Christ was present in the host. 

They all replied that Christ's presence must be symbolic. 

Then he gleefully informed them that their belief was at 

variance with Catholic doctrine and to consult a priest if 

they did not believe him. To the diplomat's disgust, the 

Mexicans all replied that if the priest said it was so, then 

5 9 
despxte their incredulity, it must be so. 

The Eco de Comercio criticized the priest for en- 
couraging superstition. Juan Barquera accused him of 
.teaching a "dull and casuistic routine" when he could be 
following in the footsteps of the immortal Hidalgo by teach- 
ing the "secrets of industry, art, and agriculture." Charges 
against tlie parish clergy were to a certain extent justified. 



251 



Their manual in 1840 was the reprint of the seventeenth- 
century treatise authored by Archbishop Palafox y Mendoza. 
Reiterated on the last page were the priest's five main 
duties. These were: ' 



1. Preach and encourage Christian vir- 
tues. 

2. Teach the ignorant the rudiments 
of the faith to salvation and obe- 
dience to God and their parents. 

3. Give Masses whenever tradition calls 
for them and say them for free if 

necessity demands. 

4. Reside in the parishes. 

5. On festive days have adults pray 
aloud so that they will not forget 
them. Make sure the adults know 
the days of abstinence from meat, 
and count attendance at Mass.'" 



The priest worked as best he could with parishioners 
who practiced the primitive folk Catholicism still common in 
modern Latin America. His flock was obsessed with death 
and the hope of the afterlife. In the barrios the people 
attended church solely to pray for the souls of their dead 
relatives. iN/hen burials in the parishes were banned, it 
was impossible to find volunteers to maintain the church, 
participate in processions, or care for the graveyards. 
The efficacy of indulgences were taken for granted. Thompson 
was astonished when his maid asked him for a $2 loan to pur- 
chase one that would free her mother from ten thousand years 

64 

of purgatory. His polite skepticism shocked her. 



252 



The worship of the saints was universal, sometimes 
with results opposite from those v;hich were intended. Thousands 
flocked to the shrine of the Virgen de Guadalupe during the 
smallpox epidemic of 1840 — the convalescents to beg relief, 

the cured to give thanks, and the healthy to be spared. The 

65 
epidemic therefore spread to the healthy. At other times 

the exploitation of the reverence for the saints approached 

chicanery, at least from the point of view of Protestant 

observers. When the rainy season failed to arrive in 1827, 

the mitre and the ayuntamiento cosponsored a procession of the 

Virgen de los Remedios. Thornton remarked that since the 

rainy season was certain to arrive within a few weeks or 

66 
even days, all would hail the efficacy, of the procession. 

It was true that the priest encouraged the peoples' 

primitive theology to suit his own ends. Fear of purgatory 

increased attendance at Mass. Thompson's servant claimed 

that he would spend seven thousand years in purgatory for 

67 , . 

each Mass that he missed. The sale of indulgences and 

parish burial fees was an important source of revenue. The 
beliefs preceded the priest's exploitation of them, and 
until the educational level of the people was raised, they 
would not .disappear. Since public education was rightfully 
the responsibility of the aguntamiento , the priest cannot be 
blamed for the ignorance of his flock. " To attempt to eradi- 
cate the beliefs on his own would almost certainly have led to 
resistance and violence. 



253 



The parish clergy did try to promote public education. 
In 1835 the priest of Santo Tomas de la Palma repeated the 
request. of his predecessor for the establishment of a municipal 
school. His parish was a "good example of tlie school of 
ignorance where thieves and murderers received their education." 
Only four of his parishioners knew enough Christian doctrine 
to participate in prayers. Such ignorance and poverty were 
commonplace; all the parishes had "zealously" sought the 
creation of municipal schools. He concluded that until educa- 
tion raised his flock from their "maltorpor and ignorance," 

68 
their moral and theological training would be impossible. 

The religion of the poor may also be interpreted 

positively, for it gave meaning to the lives of people 

menaced by a violent, ugly, and painful world. Luis G. 

Cuevas, the proclerical, conservative historian, praised 

the Church in 1850. 



For the poor who are without schools, 
without workshops, and often wi.thout 
work to support life, the service that 
the Mexican clergy has provided to the 
nation is very great — maintaining the 
populations in a subordination that 
would not have been possible without 
the powerful influence of religion. ^^ 



25^ 



Recreation 



The religious holiday was an important source of 
recreation. Masons and aguadorcs celebrated the day of 
Santa Cruz de Mayo by building altars at their fountains 
and construction sites, exploding fireworks, and clanging 
tamborines. On the twenty-fourth of June, the day of San 

Juan, the male children of Mexico City donned costumes and 

,,70 
engaged in "wars between Christians and Moors. The day 

of any saint, no matter how minor, was an important event 

in the neighborhood of the parish, chapel, or convent that 

7 1 
choose to celebrate it. On the night before the celebra- . 

tion, a group of boys carried placards displaying the saint 
to be honored and, escorted by musicians, paraded around the 
church and through the neighborhood distributing printed or 
handwritten invitations. The priest accompanied them 
collecting contributions. The next day the church was 
splendidly decorated, and at night the church and all the 
houses of the barrio were illuminated by candle light. The 
Mass and the procession occurred later in the evening and 
was followed by a fireworks display. In the fiesta atmos- 
phere, little boys ran about their comrades who were lucky 
enough to be carrying toritos (a wooden frame resembling a 
bull, lined with firecrackers) , and the entire neighborhood 
filled with the cries of street vendors, the glare of light, 
and the smoke of exploding fireworks. Later the neighbors 



255 



held dances in the streets or in the decorated patios of 

72 
vecindades . 

The greatest series of religious celebrations 

occurred during the Easter season. The carnival signaled 

the Lenten feast. During the wild and vulgar street .parties , 

the poor dressed in fantastic costumes and pelted each other 

73 
with gourds filled with clay powder or pestilent water. 

Before Holy Week there occurred three city-wide processions 

of which that of the Paseo de la. Viga took on the character 

7 4 
of a holiday walk in the country. Tlie city's excitement 

reached fever pitch during Holy Week. Convents displayed 

the life of Christ with their most treasured images. 

The poor purchased metracas (rattles) representing the 

bones of Judas and walked about the streets shaking them to 

illustrate their intentions of breaking the traitor's 

bones. During the processions the people rattled their 



me 



tracas and publicly humiliated effigies of Judas or 



heretics. On Easter Sunday the populace poised for an 
explosion of religious and less solemn exuberance. At the 
Catedral a high Mass attended by the city's notables was in 
progress. In the barrios every shop was open, and people 
crowded the balconies of houses to watch the ensuing cele- 
bration. In the carriage shops, coachmen hurriedly put the, 
finishing touches on the floats that were soon to be paraded. 
After the cathedral choir finished the in excelcis Deo, an 
artillery salvo announced the resurrection of Christ. At 



256 



the sound of the salvo, the barrio surged with activity. The 
floats entered the streets. Revelers set afire the effigies 
of Judas or ran through the streets observing the ancient 
practice of tying fireworks to dogs tails. 

The religious celebrations possessed a rowdy and 
vulgar character that religious and public authorities dis- 
liked. Drunken masons and aguadores celebrating the day of 
Santa Cruz engaged in bloody brawls. The battles between 
the Moors and the Christians degenerated into teen-age gang 
wars. The ecclesiastical cabildo (council) noted "that 
regularly during religious solemnities and particularly those 
of Christmas, many of the ' gente popular' meet, animated by 

a reprehensible joy, and above all by drunkeness, to make 

7 9 
terrible and lamentable abuses and excesses." Holy Week 

celebrations became so disorderly that in 1836 a conservative 

government banned portrayals of Moors, Saxons, Jews, cen- 

turians, spies, and pharisees from the processions. A liberal 

government, fearing that the rivalries of pro and anticlerical 

political factions would intensify the traditional disorder, 

80 
repeated the prohibition in 1857. 

■ Luis de Bellemar's description of a lower-class 

velorio (wake) demonstrates how an essentially religious 

ceremony could be debased to almost nauseating vulgarity. In 

the center of a small room lay the body of a child. It had 

been there for several days and was beginning to decompose. 

As the parents served food and drink, twenty guests diverted 



257 



themselves by gambling for piles of copper money that were 
lying on the floor. The air was thick with smoke, alcoholic 
fumes, and the stench of the cadaver. The father of the 
deceased was pleased that his young son had become an angel 
in heaven and also that his guests were enjoying themselves. 
Only the mother appeared to be truly grief stricken. For 
her "the angel taken to heaven could hardly replace the one 
she had lost on earth." At 12:00 p.m. everybody kneeled for 

prayers, and for the first time, Bellemar reflected, their 

81 
behavior suited the occasion. 

The pulqueria was the barrio's center of adult recrea- 
tion. Twenty-six licensed pulguerias existed in the city in 
1826. Because of colonial regulations, most were located in 
the barrios. The typical establishment was an immense shack 
fifty yards long by twenty yards deep, roofed with slate or 
shingles and supported by pillars of wood or stone painted 

8 2 

red, green, or blue. Huge murals depicting the titanic 
struggles of knights, matadors, or dragons decorated its 
whitewashed rear wall. Broad, brightly painted barrels of 
pulque, six feet in height and labeled with vulgar mottos, 
stood in a long row at the rear of the building. At right 
angles to the pulque barrels lay a long table holding 
glasses, snacks, dice, and cards. Waitresses dressed as 
chinas poblanas served the pulque with "large measures. The 
men conversed or gambled as they drank. Outside under 
broad awnings, men and women danced or sang to guitar music. 



a 



258 



George Ruxton attended a fandango at one pulquerla given by 

rrieros recently arrived from Durango . At the fandango, 
which later degenerated into a knife fight, variants of 
the Moorish jarabe named "The Shoemaker," "The Little Tailor," 

8 S 

or "The Swordsman" were performed. ' The great test of the 
jarabe dancers was to keep their bodies rigid from the waist 
up while rapidly and erotically swaying their hips and 
stamping their feet. To prove prowess, the more accomplished 
dancers would balance a glass of water on their heads and 
perform the dance without spilling a drop. The dances were 
accompanied by erotic or bawdy lyrics. Those which accom- 
panied one dance extolled the virtues of pulque. 



Sabe que es pulque 
licor divino-o. 
Lo beben los Angeles 
el seren-o. 



Q Q 

Gambling was popular recreation for all classes. 
Men, women, and children played cards, dice, or rayuela (a 
form of tic-tac-toe) in their homes, on the streets, and 
even in the workshops. , Cockf ighting ranked second only 
to bullfighting as a national passion. General Santa 
Anna bred fighting cocks and held public cockfights attended 

9 ] 

by leperos. Sehora de la Barca expressed surprise that 

while in Europe and the United States only rogues attended 
cockfights, the best families in Mexico favored the sport. '''^ 



259 



Although private gambling was illegal, Brantz Mayer reported 

9 3 
that hundreds of gambling halls operated daily. 

The government's policy toward gambling was ambiva- 
lent. Public lotteries supported hospitals, the shrine of 

1 - 9 4 

the Virgen de Guadalupe, and the Academy of Fine Arts. 

The festival held at San Agustin, twelve miles from Mexico 
City, was a legalized three-day revel at which fortunes were 
made and lost. All classes of Mexicans from the president 
of the Republic to the lowest beggar diced, played cards, 
and attended bull and cockfights. Tables designated for 
gambling in gold, silver, or copper coins created a degree 
of social segregation. The Mexican practice of saving for 

a year in order to squander their money at the festival 

9 5 
disgusted the puritanical Thompson. 

Bullfighting, the Mexican's first love, combined 
pageantry, skill, and bravery with the passion for gambling. 
A Jamaica or monte parnaso always preceded the plebian 
showings held in the larger plazas of the city and at the 
Garita de Perravi].lo. The Jamaica, a carnival-like accumu- 
lation of booths garlanded with flowers from which refresh- 
ments were sold, appeared in the plaza on the day of the 
corrida. The monte parnaso, an artificial tree twelve to 
fifteen feet high, festooned with brightly colored scarves 
and packets containing small sums of money, stood in the 
plaza's center. At the cry of "Toro! Toro ! " the plaza was 
cleared save for the daring young men who attempted to climb 



260 



the tree and pick the scarves and money. Tlie noisy, swaying, 
brightly-colored monte parnaso immediately caught the atten- 
tion of the bull. The men in the tree fighting each other 
for the prizes ignored the beast. The climax of the event 

came when the bull battered the tree and its occupants to 

96 
the ground to the amusement of the spectators. 

Bullfights held in the Plaza de Toros were pompous 

affairs. In the days of General Santa Anna, the general, 

his staff, and his magnificently attired guards attended them, 

and military bands playing operatic overtures serenaded the 

assemblage of notables. Fanny Calderon de la Barca saw 

nobility "in the roaring of the lord of lowing herds, the 

skill of the riders, the gay dresses, the music, and the 

9 7 
agile matador — in short, the whole circumstances of combat." 

Tylor, in contrast, found Mexican bullfights to be well below 

the standards of Europe. He was, however, impressed by the 

lazadores who "lazoed" the bulls by the horns and the coladores 

9 8 
who tossed charging bulls by their tails. All agreed that 

the entire spectacle delighted the leperos who packed the 

99 
unshaded galleries. 

The government sponsored bullfights in the belief that 

4.1 ^ -I - T 1 1 1 ..100 

the spectacles stimulated bravery and patriotism. Foreign 

and Mexican critics of the sport believed that the "appeal to 

animal lusts could only have undesirable consequences for 

people so scarcely removed from an animal existence." 

Antonio Garcia Cubas added that "it hardly helped the low 



261 



people to witness their superiors behaving as crudely as 

,,102 
they themselves. 

Other public spectacles delighted the populace. The 
ayuntamiento sponsored the flight of the French balloonist 
Adolf Theodore in the Plaza de San Pablo. Wlien the balloon 
failed to rise, the disappointed spectators rioted and 
pelted the flyer with trash and rotten fruit. In the same 
plaza a businessman staged a fight between a tiger and a 
bull. The poor, who identified the bull as a symbol of 
national honor, cheered mightily Xvfhen it gored to death a 
confused and frightened tiger. 

General Santa Anna catered to the mob with his tri- 
umphal celebrations. In November of 1833 he held a public 

1 04 
feast at the Ciudadela in full view of the poor. After 

the inauguration of the Bases organicas in 1842, the general 

treated the populace to a fiesta at the Alameda at which 

1 05 
Sangria spurted from the fountains. Twenty thousand 

viewed the burial of the general's first wife, a "magnifi- 
cent procession" that included all the dignitaries of the 
Church, government, and army.' Republican regimes also 
diverted the public. After the capitulation of Puebla in 
1855, the government celebrated its success with triumphal 

1 7 

entries, speeches, bullfights, and illuminations. 

Jose Ramon Malo, a prominent conservative, called 

the feast at the Ciudadela, held at a time of severe de- 

1 08 
pression and hunger, an affront to the needy. As a 



262 



young man Niceto Zamacois witnessed Santa Anna's extrava- 
ganzas : 



The brilliance of these fiestas fasci- 
nated the people who did not think, 
but they were a bitter irony to the 
people who suffered. 



Notes 



Ruxton, p. 20. Salado Alvarez, pp. 135-36. La- 
trobe, pp. 110-11. 

2 

Garcia Cubas (1945), pp. 1-136. Rivera Cambas, 
tomos 1-2. Marroqui, tomos 1, 3, 5. 

3 

Poinsett, p. 139. 

'Vrieto (1948), p. 249. 
AACM, tomo 3676, exp . 4. 
Thompson, p. 128. 

^Prieto (1964), pp. 169-70. 

8 
Calderon de la Barca, p. 117. 

9 
Rivera Cambas, tomo 1. 

AGN, tomo 12 7, exp. 2. 

1 1 

Gibson, pp. 378, 398, Marroqui, tomo 1, pp. 101-102. 

1 2 

Alfredo Pma, Relacion descriptiva de la fundacion 

de las iglesias y conventos de Mexico (Mexico, D.F., 1863). 
^"'aACM, tomo 872, exp. 3. 
^"^AACM, tomo 3686, exp. 37. 
^^AACM, tomo 3284, exp. 17. 
Calderon de la Barca, p. 122. 

17' 

Galvan Rivera, 1842. Almonte. 

'AGN, tomo 127, exp. 2. ' ■ 

1 9 

Many of the names inscribed in the "Libro" are anno- 
tated "deceased" with dates that indicate that the individual 
serving in the office had completed a term of service. 



263 



20 ^ ^ . 

Jose Maria Luis Mora, El clero , el estado , y la 

economia nacional (Mexico, D.F., 1950). 

2 1 

Almonte. 

22 

Mariano P. Cuevas , Historia de la iglesia en Mexico, 

5 tomos (5to ed., Mexico, D.F., 1947), torao 5, pp. 300-301. 

Orozco y Berra, Memoria. 

2 3 , ■ 

Galvan Rivera, 1842. Almonte. 

24 

AGN, tomo 12 7, exp . 2. 

^^AACM, tomo 3673, exp. 37. 

26 

Mexico City, Filmoteca del Institute de Geneologica 

y Heraldia, rolios 0013, 1152, 1579, 1977. 

"''Male population = 43 percent of 180,000 = 77,000. 
Adult male population = 40 percent of 77,000 = 32,000. One 
percent of 32,000 = 230 + 800 nuns + 100 monks =1,220. 

28 

Thompson, p. 198. 

'^Tylor, p. 286. 

30 ■ 

Bazant, Alienation , p. 94. Michael P. Costeloe, 

Church Wealth in Mexico (Cambridge, 1967). 

3 1 ^ 

Lopez Rosado, tomo 2, pp. 200-208. 

3 2 

Bazant, Alienation, p. 98. 

33 

AACM, tomo 3676, exp. 4. 

34 

Zamacois, tomo 13, pp. 377-78. Cuevas. 

AACM, tomo 2476, exp. 386. 

"Noticia de los conventos," p. 475. 

^^AACM, tomo 2478, exp. 2479. 

38 

Mora, El clero, pp. 2 7-31. 

AACM, tomo 36 73, exp. 18. 

4 

Arancel para todos los curas del Arzobispado de 

Mexico (Mexico, D.F., 1840). 

41 

AACM, tomo 2889, "Contra Manuel Palacios, 2 febrero 

185 3." 

42 

Becerro . 

4 3 

The complaining parishes were Santa Catarina Martir, 

Salto del Agua, San Pablo, San Sebastian, Santa Maria' la Re- 

donda. AACM, tomo 3673, exps . 15-37. 

'^''aACM, tomo 2299, exp. 39. 

■''aACM, tomo 3673, exp. 42. 



1848. 



264 



46 ^ - 

Calderon de la Barca , p. 259. 

47 

Bellemar, pp. 9-12. 

''^Prieto (1964), p. 170. 

'^'■^Tylor, p. 287. 

^"^AACM, tomo 302, "Actas de 12 septiembre 1849." 

"Supp.lemento 190," Siglo Diez y Nueve , 8 diciembre 

5 2 

Thompson, p. 114. 

Mora, El clero, pp. 29-30. 
^ AACM, tomo 3689, exp . 43. 
"aACM, tomo 3686, exp. 37. 

Bellemar, pp. 9-12. 

Ruxton, p. 47. 

5 K 

Barquera, pp. 16-17. 
^''Thompson, pp. 108-109. 
^'^' "Pueblo bajo," p. 3. 

Barquera, pp. 16-17. 

62 

Juan Palafox y Mendoza, Manual para la precisa, 

pronta, y facil administracion de los santos sacramentos 

(Mexico, D.F. , 1856) . 

''^AACM, tomo 3673, exps . 25-26. ' , 

6 4 

Thompson, p. 42. 
Mayer, p. 143. 
Thornton, p. 54. 

C 1 

Thompson, p. 42. 

'''^AACM, tomo 2478, exps. 25-33. 

6 9 , ■ . 

Cuevas , tomo 5, p. 47. 

^°AACM, tomo 3631, exps. 307, 291. ' 

^^"Prieto (1964), p. 190. 

^"Garcia Cubas (1945), p. 284. Prieto (1964), p. 190. 

''^Prieto (1964) , p. 190. 

^V,arcia Cubas (1945), pp. 308-336. 

75 

Thompson. 

''Sylor, pp. 49-50. 

\larcia Cubas (1945), pp. 308-36. Mayer, p. ]50. 
Tylor, pp. 49-50. 



265 



''^AACM, tomo 3631, exp . 307. 

79 

AACM, tomo 2266, exp. 6. 

Garcia Cubas (1945), pp. 308-336. 

Bellemar, pp. 25-29. 
"Garcia Cubas (1945), pp. 220-27. 
" Prieto (1964) , pp. 48-49. 

^^Garcia Cubas (1945), p. 227. 

85 

Ruxton, p . 55 . 

Prieto (1964) , p. 241. 

87 

Ruxton, p. 55. 

88 

Liceo mexicano , tomo 1, p. 35. 

8 9 

■"El juego," Semanario. Artistico, 23 marzo 1844, p. 1, 

9 0. 

Thompson, p. 2 31. 

Prieto (1948), p. 105. 

92 ^ " ■ 

Calderon de la Barca, p. 2 72. 

9 3 

Mayer, p. 78. 

Wilson, p. 193. 

95 

Thompson, pp. 132-34. 

9 6 

Bellemar, pp. 10-15. 

97 

Garcia Cubas (1945), p. 274. Calderon de ]a Barca, 

pp. 127, 271. 

98 

Tylor, pp. 71-72. 

Mayer, pp. 28, 61. Tylor, pp. 71-72. 

Garcia Cubas (1945), p. 274. 
101^ 

Garcia Cubas (1945), p. 274. Calderon de la Barca, 
p. 121. Mayer, pp. 26, 61. 

"Garcia Cubas (1945), p. 274. 

Prieto (1964), p. 87. 

10 4 

Malo, tomo 1, pp. 83-84. 

105^ 

Zamacois, tomo 12, p. 302. 

106 

Thompson, p. 53. . 

10 7 

Tylor, p. 19. 

Malo, tomo 2, pp. 83-84. 

10 9 

Zamacois, tomo 12, p. 302. 



CHAPTER SIX 
CRIME, LAW ENFORCEMENT, JUSTICE 



The evil is in the things. . . . The de- 
pression of business that causes the 
horrible misery of which our people com- 
plain and the immorality that thanks to 
the political revolutions has contami- 
nated every social class are the causes 
of the robberies , quarrels , and murders 
that are so frequently committed . 

— Ayuntamlento de Mexico, 1845 



Crime 



In 1844 the academicians of the Society of Geography 
and Statistics complacently concluded that one criminal 
existed for every 528 inhabitants and that one crime occurred 
daily. They congratulated themselves, for this represented 

a crime rate thirty times less than that of Paris, a city 

1 
three times as large as the capital of Mexico. The aca- 
demicians deluded themselves, for crime plagued the city. 
Appendix P shows the crimes committed by convicted criminals 
during 1825, 1842, 1851, and 1852. In 1842 six percent of 
the entire population, or 8,861 persons, served prison terms 



266 



267 



w 



ithin the Acordada. Since the statistics exclude unsolved 
or unreported crimes, the total number of crimes committed 
must have been far higher. 

Poor Mexicans committed the usual variety of crimes. 
Private gambling was illegal because of its social conse- 
quences. "A gambler loves nothing, has no honor, has no 
affections. Unhappy gambler! Unhappy children!" lamented 
a contributor to the Liceo mexicano. The Semanario Artistico 
complained that gambling ruined workshop discipline. Many 
workers gambled away their wages in the shop. Addicted 
gamblers in prisons and hospitals would wager away their 
pay for months in advance and then starve themselves by 
venturing their rations. The crime, however, was victimless 
and an extremely popular mode of recreation. The ayuntamiento 
did not seriously enforce the antigambling laws. The usual 
treatment was to arrest gamblers on charges of vagrancy and 
allow them to cool their heels in the municipal jail for • 
five to seven days. Magistrates released them after extremely 
perfunctory trials. The municipality candidly admitted and 
admirably defended its refusal to enforce the lax^rs to the 
national government. 



In respect to gambling, the ayuntamiento 
will only note that this vice is unfor- 
tunately so widespread in Mexico that one 
must consider that the cards fall as often 
on beautiful gaming tables as they do on 
tattered blankets. Wiat justice is there, 
seiior Prefect, to punish those who wager 



268 



four reals and not those that venture 
ounces of gold? This is not a policy 
of indifference on the part of the 
ayuntamiento . ■ The Prefecture should 
lend it not only the physical but the 
moral force to punish the rich and 
the poor together. 



Robbery accounted for approximately one third of the 
crimes committed annually. In every year for which there are 
statistics, the sex ratio of male to female convicted thieves 
was at least 2:1. The articles stolen in Cuartel Menor 17 
were of small value. The most expensive theft was that of 
thirty-six rebozos worth $13 pesos. Most stolen articles 
were worth far less. Not even a tattered serape or a stone 
metate used to grind corn were safe. Twenty percent of all 
the ward's thefts occurred at work and were of tools or the 
clothes of work mates. Most of the thefts occurred in the 
unlocked rooms of the vecindades when the occupants were 
absent or in the streets when the attention of the victims 
was distracted. The robberies appear to have been motivated 
by the desire to satisfy an immediate and basic need. Usually 
•the thief quickly pawned the stolen property or bartered it 
directly for food or. drink. The rich were also the prey of 
thieves. Tortoise-shell combs went out of fashion among the 
upper-class ladies after mounted thieves imperiled their 
wearers by galloping through the streets and wrenching them 
from their wearers^ heads . 



269 



Quarreling (rihas) with or without weapons vjas the 
most common offense, accounting for 40 to 60 percent of the 
crimes committed annually. Women were particularly prone to 
thi.s offense. Forty percent of all quarrels were committed 
by women, and 62 percent of all crimes committed by women 
were quarrels. In Cuartel Menor 17 over ha.lf of the fights 
occurred between married couples, close relatives, or close 
acquaintances. Sometimes the motives were rational or at 
least understandable. An argument with husband or wife over 
household expenses, a dispute over a delinquent loan, or a 
hasty insult by a close friend would inevitably result in a 
fist fight. At other times the violence was senseless. An 
innocent passer-by was waylaid in the streets by a drunken 
mob of men and women and knocked senseless with iron pipes. 
Two drunken women engaged in a violent quarrel burst into 
a carpenter's shop and slashed the well-meaning proprietor 
as he tried to separate them. 

Fighting with weapons easily resulted in murder. Am- 
bassador de la Barca witnessed one from his balcony while 
taking coffee with his guests. 



These gentlemen had for some time ob- 
served below some men and women of the 
lower class talking and apparently amus- 
ing themselves, sometimes laughing and 
other times disputing and giving each 
other blows. Suddenly one of the number, 
a man, darted out from amongst the others 
and tried to escape by clambering over 
the low wall which supports the arches 
of the aqueducts. Instantly and quite 



270 



coolly, another man followed him, drew 
his knife, and stabbed him in the back. 
The man fell backward with a groan, 
upon which a woman of the party, probably 
the murderer's wife, drew out her knife 
and gave the wounded man three or four 
stabs to the heart to finish him; the 
others meanwhile neither speaking nor 
interfering, but looking on with folded 
arms and' their usual placid smiles of 
indifference . 



Every day murdered bodies produced by similar brawls lay 
spread-eagle upon the Acordada's grate awaiting identifi- 
cation. The available statistics do not reflect the amount 
of murder that actually occurred. In 1842, for example, 
the courts condemned eighty-seven murderers. The police, 
however, collected 113 dead bodies from the streets and 
sent 894 seriously wounded individuals to the hospitals. 

The wealthy fell victim to murderous thieves. On 
the night of March 29, 1850, a servant discovered Juan de 
Dios Canedos, a respected congressional deputy, brutally 
stabbed to death in his room. Some whispered that a politi- 
cal vendetta inspired the crime. The murderer turned out to 
be a former servant who had killed the old man for his watch. 
Foreigners were frequent targets of deadly assaults. A 
soldier slew an American Protestant shoemaker for failing 
to genuflect as the Host, passed by, Later, leperos despoiled 
his grave. Thieves murdered the Swiss " consul , a wealthy 
dealer in parchment, for the contents of his strongbox. 
During the Revolution of 1841 a squad of soldiers robbed a 



271 



■factory, murdered its French owner, and abused the women of 
the household. Most foreigners accepted the notion that a 
mixture of greed and religious intolerance motivated the 
attacks. Charles Latrobe who visited Mexico City in 1833 
interpreted the violent anti-foreignism as an^ expression of 
lower-class resentment against the foreign artisan. 

In Cuartel Menor 17 crime lacked any marked seasonal 
periodicity. Serious crime waves accompanied every 
revolutionary or military crisis when the attention of the 
authorities was diverted. " During the 1822 occupation of 
the capital by the Army of the Three Guarantees, twelve 
thousand murders occurred. ' The troops sent to the capital 
to restore order in the wake of the 1828 Revolution of the 
Acordada openly robbed and assaulted civilians."^'' A great 
outburst of criminal activity occurred during the North 
American occupation (September 1847 to June 1848) . Zama- 
cois at first blamed the crime on the North American 
soldiers but, after reading a report by the governor of the 
Distrito Federal, admitted that the crime possessed a deeply 
rooted indigenous aspect that could not be explained away 
by revolution or foreign military occupation. Crime waves 
in fact occurred in relatively tranquil periods. In 1825 and 
1843 the army patrolled the streets and administered justice 
in an effort to control the rising tide" of crime.'"' In 
October 1845, criminal activity reached such proportions 
that "honest citizens were ready to abandon civilized society 
to join the better-organized society of the criminals . "^^ 



272 



The government vievvfed with "hori~or the portion of 
robberies, murders, and scandals . . . that have been com- 
mitted ... in the center of the capital — many of them before 

1 s 
the first authorities of the Rebpulic." The period's legis- 
lation reflected the official dismay. 

The Republic re-decreed colonial legislation banning 
the carrying of 'arms. A government circular, also of colo- 
nial origin, cautioned doctors that although they must report 
all wounds resulting from quarrels, their first duty was to 
the medical and spiritual welfare of the patient. The circular 
consequently advised the doctors on methods that would rapidly 
staunch the flow of blood so that they could rapidly summon 

9 

both priest and police." Another decree ineffectually 
ordered locks placed in every room and a watchman assigned to 

every house of the city in order to thwart an epidemic of 

2 1 ■ 

robberies ., 

The people appeared superficially indifferent to the 
crime. Senora de la Barca commented that murders occurred 
so frequently that the one witnessed by her husband excited 
little comment from his Mexican guests. " In the Plaza de 
la Gonstitucion, thieves robbed and left for dead a man in 
the presence of numerous witnesses who ignored the entire 
proceeding. The police located in a post across the square 

were aware of the crime but did not botlier to come to the 

. , .23 
victim s aid. At the corner of the convent of Santa Cata- ' 

rina de Sena and the college of San Idlefonso, thieves attacked 



273 



an army officer in front of witnesses and them moved with im- 
punity to another street. Siglo Diez y Nueve , the reporter' 
of the incident, expressed outrage that the same people who 
witnessed the crime passed the thieves at their new post 

2 'I 

and did not raise a warning. On the heavily traveled 

Paseo Bucareli at 5:00 p.m., highwaymen held up several youths 

one by one m full view of the Paseo 's usual promenaders. 

In 1841 Siglo Diez y iVueve, following the precedent 
set a decade earlier by Sol and Themis, published the names 

of convicted criminals in an effort to heighten the literate 

, , . , ^ . 26 

public s awareness of crime. The newspaper's efforts were 

unnecessary, for the psychology of the upper classes had 

already been affected by the sea of crime that engulfed them. 

"In the periodicals, in the cafes, in the private houses, 

one hears complaints of assaults or fears of being assaulted 

as if there was not a single authority with the obligation to 

prevent crime," complained the governer of the Distrito Fede- 

27 
ral. Joel Poinsett's porter rebuked him for walking the 

2 8 
streets at night unarmed. Thornton, however, reported 

that although crimes occurred frequently, a gentleman might 

2 9 

take a nightly stroll without his sword. Before leaving 
their houses to attend Mass or large public spectacles, the 
wealthy normally inspected each other to insure that all 
their valuables remained at home. They also maintained large 
dogs to protect themselves and their property." The dogs, 
trained to attack any stranger in a serape, themselves became 



274 



a public menace when they were allowed to roam the streets 
unguarded. 

A professional criminal class existed. Its elite 
consisted of men of "fine education and a facade of decency" 
who were in reality thieves and robbers. " Gentlemen- turned 
highway-robbers periodically augmented the ranks of the elite. 

3 3 

One part-time road agent was an aid of General Santa Anna. 
In the barrios well-armed and mounted gangs led by leaders 
bizarrely named "The Chicken," "Banana," "Bugler," or "Cream- 
puff" terrorized the poorer residents. Headquartered at 
sleazy pulquerlas , they cavorted and met with local merchants 
whose stores served as arsenals and x.7arehouses of stolen 
goods. The influence of the merchants protected the criminals, 
The residents of Cuartel Mayor 8 refused to join a posse 
hunting a well-known thief, claiming that their efforts 
would be useless because the thief knew how to use his money 
and had friendships with many merchants. Residents of the 
same cuartel refused to join another posse because they did 

not wish to make enemies of the thieves and expose themselves 

3 4 
to insult and murder. 

There was also ample scope for the ingenuity of the 

individual criminal. In the 1850s the city was afflicted 

by the ensebados (greased ones) : men naked and smeared with 

grease who waylaid people on the streets, robbed them, and 

murdered those who resisted. Others, mounted and hiding in 

dark alley-ways, lassoed likely looking passers-by, towed 



2 75 



3 5 
them into alleys, and robbed them at leisure. Crime 

paid handsome dividends. One eighteen-year-old thief had 

accumulated a hoard of three hundred silver pesos before his 

3 6 
arrest. 

Despite the presence of the professionals, the sheer 
dimensions of criminal activity is sufficient proof that 
most of the crime was committed by the poor, upon the poor. 
Some reasons for lower-class criminality will now be dis- 
cussed . 

Alcoholism was rampant among the general population. 

Mexican consumption of alcohol surpassed that of France and 

3 7 
England. The Scmanario Artistico wrote, 



It is the most heartbreaking spectacle 
and unworthy of humanity to see a father 
and moLher drunk in the middle of the 
night in their room whose door tliey 
cannot open with their trembling hands 
when one is aware that outside the door 
there is a small child who cannot give 
them any help and who is forced to sleep 
on a cold doorstep. And x>7e vi/ill say of 
that father that the following day and 
every day after that, he will give to 
his wife and child a bit of atole and 
some bread crusts so that he may squander 
his wages at the x^ine shop.-^''^ 



In 1845 a police official estimated that over six thousand 

people would be jailed overnight and fined for drunkeness 

3 9 
during the course of the year. 



276 



A temperance advocate xjrote that alcoholism was the 
beginning of a chain whose links were "sickness, brutishness, 

A 

misery, vice, and crime. The criminal records confirm 
his opinion. Over 40 percent of all criminals arrested in 
1851 committed offenses while intoxicated. ' Tn Cuartel Menor 
17 many criminals stole simply to purchase enough pulque or 
aguardiente for a good drunk. Twenty-five percent of all 
those arrested for quarreling within the cuartel admitted 
that tliey had been intoxicated at the time of the incident. 
The pulquerias were unpopular with the authorities. 
The behavior of its customers offended the public decorum. 



Almost naked men thrown across the gal- 
leries of the pulquerias . Habitual revels 
of drunks who blaspheme and in no way have 
the behavior or continence of the honest 
persons that pass by. Saucy, brutal, and 
filthy women who with disheveled clothes 
and exaggerated shouts attract the atten- 
tion of young people of both sexes that 
pass nearby is a small portrait of wliat 
this class of establishment presents. 



The Monitor Constitucional priated a frequently re- 
curring complaint when it stated that the pulquerias v/ere the 
"seedbeds of the major crimes, for there is not a fight, 
scandal, robbery, wound, or death" that could not be traced 

42 

to them. At times the city considered reducing their num- 
bers and concentrating the remainder in the center of the 

■t 3 
city. Nothing came of these schemes. The temperance 



277 



advocate offered one reason for their rejection. Although 
recognizing the merits of redtiction and centralization, he 
decided that because pulquerxas were so frequently the center 

of revolutionary disorders, it would be better to let them 

44 
remain scattered on the fringes of the city. 

Public laws strictly regulated the pulguerias and 

the hundreds of small pulque shops scattered throughout 

the city. They could be no higher than one story with 

counters nailed across the doors to prevent the entrance of 

customers. To further discourage customer access, chairs, 

tables, and the sale of food were forbidden on the premises. 

The customers cou].d not play cards or pawn possessions to 

pay for drinks. The owners were to prevent their customers 

from relieving themselves in nearby doorways. Since the 

ayuntamiento first issued their regulations in the late 

colonial period and reissued them in 1825, 1831, and 1845, 

there is little reason to believe that the public ever ob- 

45 

served them. 

The government and most educated Mexicans believed 
that vagrancy was the cause of crime. A fu.ll examination of 
the municipality's efforts to eradicate vagrancy illustrates 
that unemployment and underemployment were at the heart of 
vagrancy and petty theft. 

The vagrancy code of the republic was a compilation 

46 
of laws dating from 1745. Table P-2 lists the twenty-one 

types of behavior that the code classified as criminal vagrancy. 



278 



These may be separated into two broad classes of behavior. 
The first group were immoral actions like maltreating one's 
wife, gambling, drinking, or disgracing one's parents. The 
second and more important group was behavior that reflected 
the willful refusa]. of able-bodied men to engage in regular 
and productive work. The premises that opportunities for 
productive employment were abundant and that idleness was 
a personal moral flaw were implicit in the code. 

The target of the vagrancy code was the enormous 
population of leperos. The governor of the Distrito Federal 
lectured the ayuntamiento that the "total idleness" of the 
vagrants "could only be the mother of other vices and will 
oblige them to solicit their sustenance by illicit and repro- 

,,47 

bate means. At the very least they were a public nuisance 
setting a poor example for youth by loitering in rowdy groups, 
insulting respectable citizens, gambling, and filching goods 

4 H 

from the stalls of merchants. At their worst their drunkea 

brawls produced the bodies found daily in the streets and 

4 9 
vacant lots. 

The ayuntamiento struggled continuously against the 

vagrants who periodically "flooded" or "infested" the capital. 

The Tribunal de Vagos established in March of 1828 was the 

5 1 

municipality's chosen weapon. The procedure of the Tribunal 
varied over the years but was always intended to provide a 
fair trial for the suspected vagrant. In 1828 alcaldes and 
regidores (elected members of the ayuntamiento) sitting in 



279 



rottation conducted the proceedings. The city sindico (notary) 
acted as both prosecutor and defense attorney. In the first 
stages of the trial,, the Tribunal read the formal charges 
against the accused and allowed him to refute them. Written 
and oral testimony for and against the accused appeared at 
later stages. Because the collection of testimony often 
took long periods of time, suspected vagrants could pass as 
many as four months in jail before their trials were completed. 
Laws passed in 1845 made the release of the accused mandatory 

if evidence could not be presented against him within five 

5 2 
days . 

A convicted vagrant faced four years of military 

service, colonization in California or Texas, or imprisonment. 

He had recourse to an appea].s court that could revoke, con- 

5 3 
firm, or moderate his sentence within three days. Although 

the law specified that the appeals court would consist of the 
regidores and three neighbors, in practice on].y the city 
officials heard the appeals. No convicted vagrant appealed 
a verdict after 1834. 

Believing its proper function to be the determination ' 
of vagrants, the Tribunal resisted the efforts of the national 
government to transform it into its chief source of military 
conscripts. Angered by the resistance, the national govern- 
ment terminated the Tribunal on the eve of the Mexican-American 
War and gave the authority to condemn vagrants to the magis- 
trates of the lesser courts. The law that terminated the 



Tribunal expressly forbade the municipal sindico from inter- 

" . . . t4 

fermg m any way with the decisions of the judges. About 

1850 the Tribunal resumed its operations as an appeals board 
for the decisions of the alcalde de cuartel (unpaid official 
of a cuartel mayor) . 

Thousands of suspects paraded before the Tribunal. 
The police commonly collected suspects in mass arrests that 
netted every idler in the pulguerlas and the streets. The 
ayuntamiento^ s first effort to enforce the vagrancy code 
netted three hundred suspects in a single night. Most of 
these were released without charge after a few days in jail. 
The police, however, arrested only 17 percent of the suspects. 
The alcaldes auxiliares (appointed officials of cuarteles 
menores) arrested the remainder at the request of irritated 
neighbors, relatives, or wives. Table 34 lists the complaints 
that most commonly resulted in an arrest for vagrancy. Twenty- 
nine percent of the suspects were arrested on suspicion of 
vagrancy — a rubric that included loitering in the streets, 
wife beating, and irritating one's neighbors; 28 percent were 
arrested for robbery; and 17 percent, for gambling. 

Considering the numerous complaints against the vagrants 
and the ayuntamiento^ s determination to expunge them, the 
amazing facet of the Tribunal's history was that it found' 
only 18 percent of the suspects guilty.- Another 6 percent 
were released in the custody of employers or parents. These 
were in general disobedient adolescents, wayward apprentices, 



281 



or young journeymen whose conduct reflected the rambunctious- 
ness of youth rather than vagrancy. 

One reason for the low conviction rate was the failure 
of the alcaldes auxiliares to provide the Tribunal with suffi- 
cient evidence. Lacking the time to collect written deposi- 
tions or track down witnesses, the alcaldes frequently supplied 
the court with only brief ].y worded declarati.ons . The magis- 
trates made the mandatory legal presumption that the lack of 

unfavorable testimony indicated that the suspect was of good 

56 
moral character and released him. The principal reason for 

the low conviction rate, however, was that the magistrates, 
sincerely desiring to root out vagrancy, scrupulously investi- 
gated the suspect's background and found little basis for con- 
viction. Fifty-three percent of the suspects produced 
witnesses that included friends, employers, and alcaldes 
auxiliares to testify on their behalf. Almost all produced 
written depositions, apparently' genuine, from former employers 
and auxiliares , praising their industry and character. Against 
the favorable testimony, the judges usually possessed only 
the brief declaration of the arresting officicil. Civilian 
witnesses for the prosecution were present in only 13 percent 
of the cases. 

Wife beaters, drunkards, gamblers, and neighborhood 
rowdies filled the Tribunal's dockets." Provided that they 
showed evidence of employment, the Tribunal was reluctant to 
condemn them to the rigors of military service or colonization. 



282 



A' conviction-prone suspect possessed a criminal record, was 
usually arrested during a criminal act, lacked convincing 
proof of past or present employment, and received detailed 
and extremely unfavorable testimony from the arresting offi- 
cial that was corroborated by responsible civilian witnesses. 

The fo].lowing are two examples of the men condemned 
as vagrants. Juan Torres appeared before the Tribunal 
charged with trying to sell a stolen purse and pistol in the 
Plaza del Volador. He described himself as a weaver who 
worked as a vendor of blankets when work was scarce in his 
proper trade. For witnesses he produced wholesalers who 
gave the court the impression that they were purveyors of 
stolen property. Testifying against Torres was the market's 
administrator and a group of reputable stall holders. On 
the basis of their testimony, the judges condemned Torres. 
VJhen Dionesio Guerrero completed a prison term for robbery, 
the director of the Acordada marched him to the Tribunal. 
He claimed to be a used-clothes peddler but could not present 
proof of employment or a single witness during the two 

weeks allowed him. After waiting another week, the Tribunal ' 

-, ^ 5 7 
condemned Guerrero. 

The failure of the Tribunal to condemn a significant 
number of vagrants indicates that the vagrancy code was ill- 
suited to the social and economic reality of Mexico City. 
Its colonial originators intended it to force the labor of 
Indians and mestizos within the Spanish sector of the economy. 



283 



TABLE 34 
COMPLAINTS AGAINST SUSPECTED VAGRANTS 



Complaint 



Vagrancy 

Attempted robbery 

Gambling 

Drunkeness 

Quarreling 

Mistreatment of wife 

Incontinence 

Disobedience to parents 

Unspecified 



29 
28 
16 
4 
5 
5 
2 
2 
7 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, toraos 
4151-4158. 



TABLE 35 
UNEMPLOYMIiNT AMONG SUSPECTED VAGRANTS 



Occupation 



Unemployment Rate 
Within Occupation 



% of Total 
Unemployed 



Construction laborer 

Carpenter 

Baker 

Weaver 

Wax chandler 

Servant 

Sweet maker (vendor) 

Shoemaker 

Tailor 



21% 

20- 

20 

11 

20 

19 

20 

11 

17 



6 
6 
3 

4 
2 

3 

1 

14 

10 



Reason Unemplo yed 

Sickness 32% 

Scarcity of work 22 
Recent arrival ■ 15 



General unemployment rate 15% 
Artisana] unemployment rate 15% 
Unskilled unemployment rate 16% 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos 
4151-4158. 



284 



TABLE 36 
SUSPECTED VAGRANTS WITH TTTO OR MORE OCCUPATIONS 



nf,,,,,r,a)-n" r^r,^1 r^r^,,r~. "/ n '^ Total Requiring 

uccupd- Lxondi brovip /„ Group 

Additional Trades 



Construction 


laborers 38 










11 


Coachmen 


27 










3 


Tailors 


21 










8 


Weavers 


25 










9 


Street peddlers 71 










12 


Shoemakers 


11 










11 


Servants 


56 










6 




Favorite Additional 
Domestic service 


Occupations 












13% 






Street peddler 






8 








Shoemaker 






7 








Weaver 






7 








Cargado'T 






7 






General 


Category of Additional 


Occu 


■pat ions 


Chosen 




by Artisans and 
s 27% Unskille 


Uns 


ikill 


ed 


Arl 




Artisan; 


;d 




■ 73% 


:isanal 


Unskilli 


2d 5 7 Ar tisane 


il 




43 


Unskilled 



General percentage 23% 

15% of all suspected artisans 

37% of all suspected unskilled 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos 
4151-4158. 



285 



TABLE 37 
SUSPECTED VAGRANTS UNABLE TO SUPPORT FAMLLIES 



Occupational Group 



% Group 



% Total 



Street peddlers 

Leather workers 

Bakers 

Tailors 

Coachmen 

Blacksmiths 

Cargadores 

Construction laborers 

Shoemakers 

Weavers 



42 
25 
20 
19 
18 
17 
16 
14 
12 



16 
3 
3 

11 
2 
2 
2 
7 

16 
3 



General percentage 15% 
Artisans 14% 
Unskilled 19% 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos 
4151-4158. 



286 



Its supreme irony was that unemployment and underemployment 
was rampant in the republican capital. Although the owners 
of public workshops constantly complained of the shortage of 
skilled and dependable workers, they were not referring to 
the unemployed leperos V7ho loitered outside their shops. 
The Tribunal sentenced only 24 percent of the vagrants to 
forced labor, and it placed these in the bakeries. 

The records of the Tribunal give an idea of the 
extent of unemployment and underemployment among the artisans 
and unskilled laborers. Unemployment is defined simply as 
the lack of work. Fifteen percent of those arrested for 
vagrancy were unemployed at the time of arrest. Table 35 
shows that extremely high rates of unemployment prevailed 
among construction laborers, bakers, wax chandlers, carpen- 
ters, and servants. 

Underemployment was a far greater problem. In con- 
trast to unemployment, underemployment signifies the lack of 
economically productive xwrk rather than its total absence. 
Two indicators of it appeared in the records: the inability 
of a suspect to support his family and the suspect's posses- 
sion of two or more occupations. Recognizing that many both 
could not support their families and held two or more occu- 
pations, the two indicators will be analyzed separately to 
give a more precise view of the problem. 

Twenty-three percent of all vagrancy suspects 
supported themselves by two or more trades. Table 36 shows 



287 



that large percentages of street peddlers, servants, and 
construction laborers possessed multiple trades. Table 
36 also shows that domestic service and street vending were 
the most common alternate trades. The popularity of the 
already impoverished trades as alternate occupations is 
evidence of extremely limited opportunities for productive 
employment. Fifteen percent of the suspects stated that 
they were unable to support their families at their present 
trades. Table 37 shows that street merchants, tailors, 
bakers, and coachmen were the most common occupational 
groups represented. 

The men vjho loitered in the streets or pulguerias 
between odd jobs were the leperos, populacho , or vagrants of 
the capital. Juan Barquera described how unemployment swiftly 
drove a man to crime and to alcoholism. 



During illnesses or unemployment, the 

worker quickly exhausts his meager 

sources of credit. He then watches 

his children starve or die of incurable 

diseases. Living chronically in hunger, 

the father will resort to robbery and 

force his wife and daughter to become 

prostitutes. Afterward he will deliver 

himself to drunkeness to escape his con- 

6 ' 

science. 



Dishonesty was inherent in marginal employment. Many 
rinconeras earned barely enough to survive. The bitter letter 
of the shoemaker Jose Hernandez, which is quoted in Chapter 



288 



One, reveals the ].owliness of these men. Their poverty fre- 
quently drove them to crime. Rafael Ibahez sold the clothes 
entrusted to him for mending in order to eat and pay rent. 
Moved by his pleas, the authorities and his neighbors per- 
mitted him to remain free. Another tailor stole his room- 
mate's savings of $6 in order to make the trousers that his 

6 2 
customers had ordered. 

A successful peddler required as little as $6 of work- 

, . , . 6 3 
mg capital to operate his business. Because of its low 

capital requirements, street vending lured its share of the 

down and out-. A small supply of wood or access to chicken 

feathers were all that were needed to transform unemployed 

shoemakers into manufacturers and vendors of small boxes or 

feather dusters. Enterprises of this type provided a man 

with a degree of respect but earned little. Mariano Aguilar, 

for example, an unemployed tile maker, used a working capital 

of two reals to vend fruit. His daily profit of five or 

six eighths of a real was insufficient to maintain himself 

, . . _ 65 
or his wife. Aguilar and men like him survived by mixing 

legitimate commerce with crime. Aguilar was arrested for 

petty theft. The box vendor sold his wares and burglarized 

the unguarded houses that he chanced by. The dishonesty of 

the peddlers brought the scrutiny of the police upon the 

profession. A law of 1834 required meii describing themselves 

as merchants to prove their occupations by showing their 

wares or place of work. Self-described brokers were to show 

their account books. 



289 



Tlie surliness of the cargadores might be explained by 
their backgrounds. Many of them worked at the trade be- 
cause of unemployment in their regular profession. Typical 

of the part-time cargador was Rafael Avila, a mason who worked 

58 
as a cargador whenever he could find no work at construction. 

Others were orphan boys like Francisco Acala who stole the 

6 9 
goods his customers entrusted to him for delivery. 

The professional cargadores resented the influx of newcomers, 

and street-corner fights between them and over customers were 

70 
frequent. 

The authorities attempted to insure the honesty and 
orderliness of the cargadores with a series of strict regula- 
tions issued in 1851. These required that all cargadores be 
bonded and assigned to a specif.i.c zone under the supervision 
of an appointed foreman. No cargador with a criminal record 
would be liceijsed, and the commission of a crime by a licensed 
cargador would result in the forfeiture of his license. If 
the cargador worked for a commercial establishment, he was 
the legal responsibility of his employer. The law forbade 
adolescents or young men to enter the trade. Youngsters 
employed before the regulations went into effect were to be 

rounded up and apprenticed to a skilled craft. Only the 

7 1 
aged or infirm were permitted to become cargadores . 

Dishonesty was a serious problem among domestic ser- 
vants. Petty thieves commonly found employment on household 

72 
stafts. The De la Barcas unwittingly employed a chronic 



290 



gambler wanted for robbery and a kitclien maid who stole $50 

7 3 
from the housekeeper. ' The carelessness with which employers 

gave references to servants whom they had discharged for 
dishonesty worsened the problem. Public authority sought 
to insure the honesty of the household staff. A law of 
1834 required all servants to carry a passbook showing em- 
ployment history, present employment, and salary. It for- ■ 
bade the employment of those lacking passbooks . ^'^ The 
Inspectorate of Servants and Domestics, founded in 1846, for- 
bade employers under pain of fine to hire servants lacking 

J . . 75 
Its accreditation. 

The literate public was aware that underemployment 
and unemployment were closely connected to crime. Gabriel 
Ferry wrote that because there existed few opportunities 
for employment, there was little wonder that part of the 
lower classes found life in the Acordada prison acceptable 
and even cheerful because it was a refuge offering food 
and shelter. One of his characters, a lepero , abandoned a 
life of crime v/hen after a year's search he obtained em- 
ployment as a cargadorJ^' In June of 1848 Siglo Diez y Nueve 
warned that if the government did not press the unemployed 
into the National Guard, they would become thieves.''^ 

The authorities knew that periods of vagrancy and 
crime coincided with economic depression. Correspondence 
ordering the press gangs to the barrios in 182 7 discussed 
the need of pressing "all vagrants and those who lacked 



291 



craft or occupation into military service." The governor of 
the Distrito- Federal smugly justified the impressment of the 
unemployed as a means of "putting the multitude of people 
without occupation," but who were "sufficiently robust, to 
useful work," removing them from the pulquerias and other 

7 S 

"pernicious places" that they inhabited. In February of 
1829 he complained to the ayuntamiento that 



the city is full of vagrants either 

because the Tribunal has failed to 

act in the past months or because 

the circumstances have placed many 

persons without having obiects 

.79 
to consecrate their labor. 



The intent of the Tribunal de Vagos was to spare the 
poor, whether employed or unemployed, from impressment while 
ridding the city of vagrants. Its magistrates kept faitli 
with its goal, sparing the unemployed or partially employed 
but condemning the truly idle. The seemingly contradictory 
situation exists, however, that while all were aware that 
unemployment and underemployment were the roots of vagrancy 
and crime, all held that vagrancy defined as a personal, moral 
vice caused crime. Regidor Manuel de la Cadena, who per- 
sonally led antivagrancy patrols, clearly stated the ambi- 
valent position in a report to the government of the Distrito 
Federal after making his first patrol. No one who had ever 
lived in the barrios of Santa Ana and El Carmen, wrote the 



292 



regidor, would ever deny that the ca.pital possessed vagrants. 
In the barrios under his supervision, however, the artisans 
had "very few manufactures with which to occupy themselves 
and, sometimes none at all." The regidor did not wish to 
persecute "weavers and silversmiths who when arrested 
claimed truthfully that they did not work because they had 
nothing with which to occupy themselves." He requested gui- 
dance from higher authority that would resolve the "inex- 
plicable conflict." 

The government's response to the reports of regidor 
Cadenas and other officials was to ignore them and demand 
that they supply a steady stream of suspects to the Tribunal 

81 

de Vagos. The auxiliares complied ingenuously by arrest- 
ing innocent strangers. The Tribunal always released men 
arrested in such a fashion for lack of evidence.*^" 

It is puzzling but understandable that nineteenth- 
century Mexicans believed in the existence of a large class 
of criminal vagrants while knowing that unemployment and 
underemployment resulted in vagrancy and crime. Their faith 
was similar to that of modern North Americans asserting that 
freeloaders clutter the welfare rolls. Both beliefs could 
not sustain close examination. The government of the Distrito 
Federal, solely concerned with the fight against crime and 
the procurement of soldiers, was so far removed from daily 
contact with the poor that it could delude itself with the 
myth of vagrancy. The magistrates of the Tribunal de Vagos 



293 



and the men who enforced the laws were less fortunate. Their 
daily contact with the poor brought them face to face with 
the vagrants' true identity. Although they paid lip service 
to the myth, they refused to convict the unemployed or under- 
employed. 

The universal violence of lower-class behavior is a 
phenomenon for which modern social scientists have failed to 
provide a definitive explanation. It is reasonable to sus- 
pect, however, that physical and psychological frustration 
resulting from crowding, economic deprivation, hunger, and 
pain played the same role in motivating the violence of the 
nineteenth-century Mexican barrio as it does in the slums of 
twentieth-century cities. The violence of the poor also 
followed the pattern of society. The upper classes dueled 
among themselves to avenge personal insults and resorted to 
violent revolution to settle political disagreements. The 
consensus of contemporary opinion was that the revolutions 
were the height of irresponsible violence. The July 1840 
cannonade between the Palacio Nacional and the Ciudadela 
slew nearly two hundred innocent civilians. Not all fell 
victim to wayward cannon balls. Soldiers of both factions 
stationed in the towers of the churches and convents amused 

themselves by sniping at pedestrians searching the streets 

,- . . 83 

tor provisions. Many of the wounded were horridly maimed. 

The following is a description of one victim unlucky enough 
to survive. 



294 



Amongst the patients is an unfortunate 
child of eight years who, in the pro- 
nuncimiento, had been accidentally 
struck by a bullet which entered her 
left temple and came out her right eye. 
The ball was extracted, and a portion 
of the brain came out at the wound. 
She is blind, or nearly so, having but 
a faint glimmering of light. They say 
she will probably live, which seems 
impossible. She looks like a ga.lvanized 
corpse, . . .yet must have been a 
pretty child. ^^"^ 



The violence of nature surpassed that of society. 

Medical experts describe cholera as an unnerving disease 

8 5 
whose symptoms are revolting. He who witnessed the 

snuffing out of fifty-eight hundred lives during the three 
weeks of August 1833 would hardly view the casualties of 
the 1840 pronuncimiento or the "murderous brawls of the 
half-breeds" as a perversion of the natural order of the 
universe . 

The ayuntamiento most succinctly stated the relation- 
ship between lov;rer-class criminality and the pattern of the 
entire society when it responded to accusations that its 
inertia and indifference were responsible for the October 
1845 crime V7ave. After listing the obstacles that faced 
law enforcement and the hypocrisy of penalizing the poor for 
gambling or keeping their children from school, the municipal 
sindico concluded that the true cause of "the evil is in the 
things." In the 



295 



depression of business that causes the 
horrible misery of which our people 
complain and in the immorality that, 
thanks to the political revolutions, 
has contaminated every social class 
are the causes of the robberies, quar- 
rels,, and murders that so frequently 
are committed . 



Law E nforcement 

The policing of Mexico City was notoriously ineffi- 
cient. Although the first decades of the independence period 
witnessed numerous proposals for the establishment of a large 
professional police force, it was not established until 1879.^'' 
Until that time the police force consisted of some twenty- 
five celadores (municipal policemen) and a few dozen market 
guards armed with sabers. This force was effective in the 
areas that it patrolled, but was too small to police the 
entire city. Security duties were supposed to be shared 
with the 350-strong, paramilitary public security corps under 
the command of the government of the Distrito Federal, but 
that force was uncooperative and frequently in conflict with 
municipal authorities. The aijuntamiento once complained that 

its existence hindered rather than helped effective law en- 

8 9 
tor cement. 

Lacking an efficient professional police force, the 
full brunt of law enforcement and civic administration fell 
upon the unpaid alcalde. The aijuntamiento appointed two 



296 



alcaldes auxiliares for each cuartel manor. Each auxiliar 
in turn appointed six ayudantes and additional ayudantes 
caides . The mission of the involuntary civil servants was 
demanding. They were to be 



true fathers of the neighbors of their 
respective territories who, without 
introducing themselves into the houses 
or disturbing domestic order, will 
attempt to avoid, to conciliate, and 
to pacify domestic quarrels and to 
end other disorders so that they will 
not become scandals. 



Their duties included registering new residents, conducting 
the census, serving as truant officers, organizing the fire 
brigade, and making the nightly patrol of the neighbor- 
hoods. The ayudantes were to accompany the alcalde during 
the patrol and to otherwise be of assistance. 

The alcalde auxiliar and his ayudante failed in their 
mission. One reason for the failure was their poverty which 
prevented the performance of duties. Surviving lists of 
alcaldes auxiliares show that they were artisans, but do not 
reveal whether they were masters or journeymen. Ayudantes 
were mostly artisans, probably journeymen, but included 
among their numbers were a few marginal merchants. Whether ■ 
master, journeyman, or marginal merchant, all v;ere described' 

as "needy artisans . . . having no more resource than their 

9 2 
meager personal work." The fulfillment of census taking, 



297 



their most time-consuming duty, deprived them of the time 

9 3 
to provide for themselves or their families. Upon 

learning of an impending census, the auxiliar and his sub- 
ordinates usually threatened to resign. Only threats of 

fines or imprisonment compelled them to fulfill their 

9 4 
duties. Their resentment goes a long way to explain the 

inaccuracies of the censuses. The "Rarao de Auxiliares" in 

the Archive del Ayuntamiento de la Ciudad de Mexico is 

literally crammed with resignations for reasons of financial 

hardship. Because of poverty many of the poorer wards lacked 

oo- ■ -, 9 5 
the oftxcials. 

Those auxiliares who remained at their posts were 
likely to be tyrannical. The conservative newspaper Sol 
accused- them of ruling in a "sultanic style" with "royal 
caprice," of sending men to jail on the basis of gossip 
or private grudge, and of illegally condemning poor men to 
involuntary and unpaid servitude in local bakeries. The 
auxiliares , continued Sol, had converted themselves from the 
"fathers of the poor" into "stepfathers." -A decree of the 
governor general of the Distrito Federal confirmed the com- 
plaints. It praised the behavior of most auxiliares , admitting 
that abuses of authority existed, and reminded them that 

arrested men must be arraigned before a judge within ei.ght 

> c 9 7 -■ 
hours of arrest. 

Because of their poverty, auxiliares often combined 

corruption with tyranny. Pablo Reyes, while administering 



298 



Cuartel Menor 2, allegedly supported himself by levying 

illegal fines, accepting bribes, and extorting money from ' 

98 
local merchants. Another auxiliar was accused of being in 

1-1 ■ - 9 9 

league with common criminals to despoil his own neighborhood. 

In 1832 a damaging series of articles appeared in the plebian 

Toro which was highly critical of the unpaid officials. The 

reporters specifically accused Ignacio Torres of arbitrarily 

arresting the poor and receiving a share of the bribes 

1 ^ ■ r 1 ■, ■ ■ ■ 10 

resulting from subsequent litigation. 

The other agencies of public authority did not 
cooperate with the auxiliares or their aides. Like all 
civilian inhabitants of Mexico City, they were forbidden to 
carry firearms, even when on patrol. "How is it possible," 
asked the aijuntamiento , "that a patrol composed of a regidor 
an auxiliar, and two or three ayudantes , and some other per- 
sons poorly armed with swords, can impose any respect on 
evildoers that always carry firearms?" When auxiliares dared 
to carry firearms to defend themselves, the courts punished 
them with "barbaric rigor." 

The auxiliares were forever complaining that the 

] 2 

courts failed to support them. It was frustrating, claimed 
one, to arrest dangerous criminals only to have them released 
the next day to jeer at the same patrol that arrested them 

.10 3 

the night before. Their allegations were partly the 
result of the classic conflict between those who must enforce 
the law and those who must dispense justice and have a 



299 



familiar ring to modern ears. Centuries of authoritarian 
"rule intensified the clash. The auxiliares quite naturally 
desired the courts to bolster their authority by the quick 
condemnation of those who were arrested. The courts, in 
contrast, carefully observed the letter of Mexican law. 
Judges allowed the accused to defend himself in the presence 

of the arresting official, a procedure that tlie auxiliares 

, , ■ , 3 4 

thought degrading. More importantly, the judges insisted 

on the legal requirement that all evidence against the 
accused be presented within three days. This was an 
impossibility, for the unpaid auxiliares. When the evidence 
was submitted promptly, it frequently was not in the lengthy 
and complex form required by Mexican courts. The failure 
to follow evidenti.ary regulations led to the frequent re- 
lease of suspects and was the basis for the oft-repeated 

10 7 

complaint that' the courts failed to prosecute criminals. 

The courts, in turn, were apt to view auxiliares and ayudantes 

as "persons of little education and little ability" and 

1 A O 

tended to treat them like errand boys. 

The auxiliares quarreled bitterly with the military. 
The soldiers, whether members of the city's garrison or the 
civilian militia that sometimes existed, demonstrated their 
military fuero (right) by refusing to cooperate with, and 
often publicly resisting or humiliating, the civilian 
officials. The following two examples illustrate their 
contempt. In 1827 soldiers arbitrarily arrested an auxiliar 



300 



and his entire patrol of twelve men, placed them in the 
Acordada, and to the amusement of convicted criminals, made 
them sweep the prison's filthy patios. In 1828 a colonel of 
the civic militia publicly insulted and manhandled an auxiliar 
tor refusing to release suspected vagrants. In other inci- 
dents soldiers guilty of crimes successfully' defied the 
efforts of the civilians to arrest. them or to bring them 
to trial. Military disrespect for the officials led the 
municipality to ' lodge official complaints in 1828, 1830, and 
1845. That of 1845 stated that there could be little 
respect for civilian authority when the military was free 
from civil jurisdiction, treated civilian institutions with 
contempt, and openly resisted civilian authority. 

A more profound reason for the failure of civilian 
authority was that lacking any material force or power, it 
had to rely upon the cooperation of the populace, both rich 
and poor, for support. Cooperation was impossible when the 
public viewed civil regulations at best as a nuisance and 
at worst as a system of repressive rules imposed by an 
alien authority. The fate of alcalde auxiliar Juan Alvarez 
illustrates the frustrations of a dedicated man fighting the 
public apathy. Alvarez, a schoolteacher, zealously fulfilled 
his mandate to be father of the people, enforcing sanitary 
regulations, arbitrating domestic quarrels, and leading 
the nightly patrol. The auxiJiar's efforts received the 
praise of a regidor of the ayuntamiento , the former auxiliar, 



301 



and two parish priests. As a reward and because no one else 
wanted the position, the municipality appointed Alvarez to 
an illegal third term. His neighbors reacted to the appoint- 
ment with legitimate complaints of its illegality and 
trumped-up charges that "the little angel" levied illegal 
fines, compelled his neighbors to sweep the streets, abused 
the poor, and permitted the existence of a brothel next to 
his residence. An investigation proved the matter of the 
brothel a calumny and proved other charges to be stemming 
from the neighborhood's resentment when Alvarez rigorously 
enforced the municipal sanitary regulations. 



Popular hatred of the alcalde auxiliar, especially b 

1 1 2 

the populacho, was intense. One lieutenant of the civil 



y 



militia refused to serve as an auxiliar on the grounds that 
acceptance of the position "would bring grave disrespect 
and dishonor to the concept of service in the civil militia." 
After the publication of the Toro' s articles, an auxiliar re- 
signed claiming that he had just opened a small store and 

that the public resentment generated by the articles jeopar- 

1 ] 3 
dized his chances for success. 

Public hatred created its own obstacles for law en- 
forcement and civil administration. Volunteers for auxiliar 
or ayudante were few, and those compelled to serve faced the 
dilemma of forcing their neighbors upon whom they depended 
for a livelihood to accept unpopular laws. Luis de Bellemar 
humorously captured the innate conflict of interest when he 



302 



described a patrol as "publicans who lodge criminals during 

,,1 1 5 

the day and let them off to pursue them at night. Many 

resolved their problem by lax law enforcement. The auxiliar' s 
habit of arresting strangers has already been cited. In 
1828 regidor Cadenas explained sympathetically to the governor 
of the Distrito Federal that the principal obstacle that pre- 
vented him from enforcing the Republic's strict vagrancy laws 
was 



of my three auxiliares , one owns a cafe 
and another, a wine shop. . . . One 
cannot expect that they would denounce 
those that contribute to their subsis- 
tence.^ ^"^ 



Justice 

The criminal or civil courts of the Distrito Federal 

117 
heard murders, serious robberies, and important litigation. 

The Tribunal. de Vagos ' s purview was limited to vagrancy cases, 

and its proceedings were chaired by members of the ayuntamiento 

sitting in rotation. Courts of conciliation handled 

the advanced phases of civil litigation. Prior to 1846 the 

principal courts with which the poor dealt were the juzgados 

de primera instancia that existed in all cuarteles menores . 

The courts handled the primary stages of civil litigation and 

the petty robberies, brawls, disturbances of the peace that 



303 



119 
were the stuff of lower-class crime. They also settled 

litigation involving small sums of money. A juez de letras , 

whom the ayuntamiento appointed from the ranks of master 

artisans and shopkeepers, presided over the court. 

Critics frequently accused the untrained judge of 

1 20 
rendering illegal or quasi-legal verdicts. The evidence 

does not bear out this charge. Until the first civil code 

was introduced in 1876, Mexican law was archaic Spanish law 

dating from the late Middle Ages and codified in La nueva 

12 1 . . . . 

recopilacion. Interpreting the law to suit the condition 

of the nineteenth century left a judge ample scope for improvi- 
sation — probably more scope than a North American judge would 
possess while trying a case according to common law. The 
complaints of the alcaldes auxiliares and an examination of 
the decisions made in Cuartel Menor 17 's juzgado de primera 
instancia reveal that in criminal cases the judges made fair 
decisions, scrupulously observing the legal rights of the 
accused. 

Charges of corruption, particularly regarding civil 
cases, were common. "A good law suit," friends told Tylor, 
"m.ust be carefully prepared by bribing the juez de letras 
whose reports serve as the basis of all subsequent litiga- 

12 2 

tion. ' The corruption of the lower courts stemmed from 
the impoverishment of the judges and their clerks. In 1847 
a judge complained that he and his clerks had not been paid 
for a month and warned that "impartial justice" would not come 



304 



from those whose circumstances were reduced to those of the 
"miserable people." Although the documents do not reveal 
judges involved in bribery, their clerks regularly disguised 
bribes as legal fees. For example, when Vicente Cruz was 
arrested for vagrancy, the Tribunal's clerk asked him for 
a bribe of $15 to prepare the proper reports. Having earlier 
assured his nephew's release by bribing a municipal clerk, 
Cruz's uncle indignantly refused to pay. In fairness to 
Mexican justice, it must be added that after confirming the 

allegation of bribery, the Tribunal de Vagos dismissed the 

1 2 3 
case against Cruz. 

The requirement to be represented by two hombres buenos 
(character witnesses) provided further opportunities for 
corruption. The hombres buenos, working in league with the 
legal clerks, extorted money from the poor by falsely repre- 
senting themselves as lawyers or implying that their services 
were necessary to obtain a favorable decision. When not em- 
ployed as hombres buenos, the rascals worked as tintorillos 
(false witnesses) whose testimony could be purchased for the 

appropriate fee. Their ' existence mocked and perverted Mexican 

124 
justice. Many times the tintorillo did not appear in court, 

abandoning the defendant to his just deserts. The government 

considered the hombres buenos and the tintorillos so vicious 

that it defined the practice of the professions as vagrancy. 

The expenses engendered by the corruption of the Mexican 

courts gave rise to the expression that "a good compromise 

19 5 

IS better than a good lawsui.t." 



305 



The legitimate fees charged by the clerk of the 

court for the preparation of legal documents ranged $15 

1 2 7 
to $20. Their expense discouraged the poor from using 

the courts. In 1850 reformers proposed a model fee schedule 
containing fees varying from $1 to $4. It is unknown whether 
the municipality ever adopted the schedule, but since any 
litigation required several documents, its fees would still 
have been a considerable expense for the poor. 

After 1846 each cuartel manor elected an unpaid 
justice of the peace in order to free the juzgados de pri- 
mera instancia for more serious cases and to provide inex- 
pensive justice- to the poor. The justices heard petty 
criminal and civil cases and imposed light fines and short 
jail sentences. The judge could use the fines that he 
levied for awards in civil litigation. Defendants arraigned 
before the justices remained at liberty and did not require 

19 9 

the services of hombres buenos . 

The new system of judgeships was impossible to imple- 
ment. Because of the complete disorganization of the city 
during the war with the United States, the municipality 
could not appoint a justice in every minor ward, and the 
barrio's petty criminal cases went unheard. Later amendments 

limited the appointment of the justices to the eight cuarteles 

130 
magores . Soon complaints circulated that the cuarteles 

mayores^ justices charged excessive fees and were accessible 

.,131 
only to the rich. 



306 



To secure law enforcement and reestablish administra- 
tion in a city bereft of police, administrators, and judges, 
the governor of the Distrito Federal established in 1847 
juntas de policia (police boards) tasked with the responsi- 
bility of policing the city and administering criminal jus- 
tice. Each major ward was to elect a junta composed of 
citizens earning $3,000 annually. The junta would organize 
the elections of a jefe de manzana whose duties were to police 
the streets and render verbal judgments of criminal cases. 
Idealists writing for Siglo Diez y Nueve hailed the the new 
system of juntas a classroom in democracy. 

For a time the struggle over jurisdiction between the 
newly appointed jefes and the alcaldes auxlliares and his 
ayudantes thwarted the intent of the junta. Eleven months 
after the new system was introduced, a decree was necessary 
to assign judicial matters to the jefe and enforcement of the 
laws to the auxiliar . The city abolished the position of jefe 
de manzana after discovering that qualified candidates did 

13 4 

not' exist m sufficient numbers. 

In the absence of a jefe de manzana, local justice 
fell into the hands of the alcalde de manzana, the elected 
official whose position existed briefly after 1848. The com- 
bination of judicial, police, and administrative pov/er in 
the bands of one person increased the opportunities for 
their abuse. The charges against alcalde de manzana Victoriano 
Montoya show the extent to which the position's authority could 



3Q7 



be abused. Businessmen bribed him to harass their competitors 
out of the neighborhood. The alcalde profited from both the 
original bribe and the one paid by his victim to avoid im- 
prisonment. The alcalde also sold justice. For $2 he trans- 
ferred an unwanted .grandchild to its padrino, and separated a 
pair of lovers and then forced their marriage. He fined 

1 "i 5 

another man twenty reals for fighting with his wife. ' One 
must observe, however, that the alcalde's justice was cheaper 
and swifter than that obtained by legitimate methods. 

The abuses of the alcaldes de manzana led to the aboli- 
tion of that position in 1849. His place was taken by an al- 
calde de cuartel. The new alcalde was to handle verbal judg- 
ments, conciliations, and vagrancy cases. The new system was 
no better than the one which it replaced. In 1850 the monar- 
chist newspaper Universal complained that there was no appeal 
from an alcalde's decisions and that because of his tyranny 

the system of justice as it applied to the poor must be re- 

I 3 6 
formed. The evidence of the Tribunal de Vagos supports 

the newspaper's complaint. In 1852 alcalde de cuartel Picazo — 

through arbitrary imprisonment, the suppression of evidence, 

and the intimidation of witnesses — condemned four men to cer- 

13 7 

tain death through military service in the Yucatan peninsula. 

Despite its irregularities Mexican justice was 
reasonably swift. Criminal cases in Cuartel Menor 17 were 
tried within forty-eight hours of the accused's arrest. 
In 1847, however, when the unpaid court clerks refused to 



308 



1 3 9 
work, criminal cases took over a week to hear. The 

lengthy procedures of tlie Tribunal de Vagos could drag on 

for months, especially if the accused chose to appeal a 

140 

guilty verdict. In 1841, however, the city was indignant 

when two master artisans were mistakenly arrested and held 

] 4 1 
m jail for two weeks awaiting trial. Normally the 

trials of vagrancy suspects occurred within two weeks of 

their arrest. 

Penalties were not harsh. The higher courts were 

extremely reluctant to impose the death penalty. Charles 

Latrobe reported in 1834 that only the insistence of the 

British ambassador had pressured the government to execute 

14 2 

the murderer of the Swiss consul. At times regimes 
resorted to atypical severity to dramatize their determina- 
tion to stamp out crime. During 1842 the government of 

General Santa Anna garroted seventy highwaymen and displayed 

143 

their ghostly, white-robed bodies on the Paseo de Bucareli. 

The murderer of Juan de Dios Canedos was hung from the 

balcony of his victim's hotel room in the presence of his 

14 4 
accomplice and an immense crowd. Petty robberies were 

punished by fines or imprisonment. If the complainant 
permitted, the defendant avoided jail by repaying the value 
of the stolen property in cash or labor. Most jail sentences 
for robbery rarely exceeded one month. " The courts dealt 
more severely with those who fought with weapons. Sentences 
for this crime were normally a fine and three months im- 
prisonment . 



309 



Imprisonment weighed heavily on the families of the 
prisoners. The following plea for prison reform graphically 
describes their plight. 



Deprived of their breadwinner, tlie first 
days they can scarcely live by the sale 
of their miserable clothes and rags and 
the services that old friends lend to 
them. Very soon these friends tire of 
them, and their miserable rags are sold, 
for which reason they find themselves 
naked and subject to the most horrible 
misery. Physical suffering, consequent 
illnesses, and complete moral degrada- 
tion follow. They abandon completely 
the few habits of cleanliness and industry 
that they possessed. They do not make any 
effort to find work, they completely for- 
get the education of the children, and 
instead of procuring it for them so that 
they will be instructed in the rudiments 
of first letters, without which they can- 
not learn a craft, they leave them in 
ignorance and idleness. One sees these 
families very frequently dedicated to 
mendicancy, scattered throughout the 
cities and the highways, imploring pub- 
lic charity. ^'•^ 



Notes 



"El Crimen," Ateneo Mexicano, 1844, p. 35, 
2 
Li ceo mexicano , tomo 1, p. 35. 

■ "El juego," p. :i . 

AACN, tomo 3690, exp . 66. 

S . > ■ 

Tylor, p. 170. 

6 
Calderon de la Barca, pp. 168-69. 

Mayer, pp. 266-70, 271. 



310 



Garcia Cubas (1945), p. 337. 

9 
Mayer, pp. 140-41. 

. 1 

Bustamante, El gabinete , tomo 2, p. 180. 

1 1 

Latrobe, p. 100. 

^^-VACM, tomo 2279, "Carta de 1 enero 1845"; tomo 2267 
exp. 32. 

1 3 

Poinsett, p. 130. Zamacois, tomo 11, pp. 128-30. 

AACM, tomo 3689, exp. 32. 

Zamacois, tomo 13, pp. 209-214. 

AACM, tomo 3689, exp. 15. Malo, tomo 1, p. 240. 

AACM, tomo 3690, exp. 66, pp. 1-6. 

AACM, tomo 393, exp. 110. 

"Parte oficial," Sol, 6 septiembre 1828, p. 1. 

20 

Rodriguez de San Miguel, Manual, p. 101. 

"Parte oficial," p. 2. ' 

2 2 

Calderon de la Barca, p. 170. 
"■'lylor, p. 170. 

2 4 

"Robo," Siglo diez y Nueve , 28 noviembre 1841, p. 3, 

25 

Zamacois, tomo 13, pp. 447-48. 

2 6 , J 

Crimenes, Siglo Diez y Nueve, 9 noviembre 1841, 
p. 2. 

"^AACM, tomo 393, exp. 110. 

28 

Poinsett, p. 130. 

29 

Thornton, p. 53. 

■'"lylor, pp. 52-53, 150. 

"Remitido," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 26 noviembre 1841, 



4. 



3 2 

Ibi d . 



33 
3 4 
35 
36 
37 

Francisco Ortega-, Memoria sobre los wedios de des 
terrar la einhriaguez (Mexico, D-.F., 1847). 



Thompson, p. 23. Calderon de la Barca, pp. 153-54. 

'^AACM, tomo 3690, exp. 66; tomo 3691, exp. 107. 
Ferry, p. 17. 

AACM, tomo 3690, exp. 66. 



"La embriaguez," p. 2 



p. 1, 



311 



AACM, tomo 49 7, exp. 28. 

40 

Ortega, p. 16. 

^AACM, tomo 3719, exp. 66. 

•1 2 ,, ,, 

Remitido, Monitor Constitucional , 29 marzo 1845, 



4 3 

"La embriaguez, " Eco de Comercio, 11 septiembre 

1848, p. 4. AACM, tomo 3719, exp. 57. 

Ortega, p. 59. 

AACM, tomo 37.19, exps . 23, 57, 63. Prieto (J964), 
p. 41. 

AACM, tomo 4779, exp. 334. 

A.\CM, tomo 4151, exp. 19. 

^'"Vagos," p. 1. 

4 9 

"Vagos y mendigos," Eco de Comercio, 20 junio 1848, 
p. 2. 

AACM, tomo 3631, exp. 39 2; tomo 4151, exp. 334. 

5 1 

AACM, tomo 4151, exp. 6. . ' 

"AACM, tomo 4779, exp. 334. 

AACM, tomo 4151, exp. 6. 

"'aaCM, tomo 4158, exp. 334. 

AACM, tomo 290, "Actas de 3 marzo 1828." 

AACM, tomo 4 779, exp. 334. 

^AACM, tomo 4159, exp. 7. 
5 8 

Norman F. Martin, Los vagabundos en la Nueva Espaha: 

siglo XVI (Mexico, D.F., 1957), pp. 1-20. Luis Chavez Orozco 
and Enrique Florescano, Agricultura y industria textil de 
Vera Cruz-. siglo XIX; fuentes para la historia economica y 
social de Vera Cruz (Xalapa, 1965), pp. 151-54. 

5 9 

"Policia," Siglo Diaz y Nueve , 8 diciembre 1848, 
p. 3. 

60 

Barquera, pp. 10-11. 

61 ■ 

AACM, tomo 2889, "Contra Rafael Hernandez, 28 sep- 
tiembre 1852." 

6 2 

AACM, tomo 2889, "Contra Jorge Barros , 3 abril 1852." 

63 

Ai\CM, tomo 4154, exp. 162. 
64 

AACM, tomo 4778, exp. 300; tomo 4154, exp. 215. 

AACM, tomo 4156, exp. 2 55. 



312 



'aaCM, tomo 4778, exp. 300. 

AACM, tomo 4151, exp. 6. All peddlers, no matter 
what their income, referred to themselves as "merchants" or 
"brokers . " 

AACM, tomo 4151, exp. 20. 

6 9 

AACM, tomo 4156, exp. 256. 

7 

AACM, tomo 2156, exp. 20; tomo 4154, exp. 175. 

71 ^ 

Dub Ian and Lozano, tomo 4. 

^\Ai\CM, tomo 3690, exp. 73. 

73 

Calderon de la Barca, pp. 255-56. 

7 4 

AACM, tomo 4151, exp. 6. 

'""^AACM, tomo 3690, exp. 73. 

76 

Ferry, tomo 1, pp. 65, 83. 

7 ^ 

"Policia," Siglo Diez y Nueve , 17 junio 1848, p. 1. 

7 R 

AACM, tomo 4151, exp. 4. 
'^AACM, tomo 229, "Actas de 14 febrero 1829." 

AACM, tomo 4151, exps . 1-6. 

AACM, tomo 4151, exp. 19. 
^"AiVCM, tomo 47 79, exp. 334. 
'"Informe," Cosmopolita, 15 julio 1849. 

84 

Calderon de la Barca, p. 530. 

85 „ 

Charles E. Rosenberg, The Cholera Epidemic of 1832 

in New York City," Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 1959, 

p. 137. 

,^^AACM, tomo 3690, exp. 66. 

^"Barrios," 9 enero 1903, p. 1. The "Ramo de Policia" 
in the AACM contains proposals to establish a large, trained 
municipal police force during the years 1826, 1841, 1845, and 
1848. During 1848 no less than three separate proposals were 
made . 

'^^^AACM, tomo 3623, exp. 39; tomo 3690, exp. 66. 

8 9 

Ibi d . 

9 

Rodriguez de San Miguel, Manual, pp. 102-106. 

"aaCM, tomo 392, exp. 82. " . 

'AACM, tomo 389, exp. 12; tomo 392, exp. 115. 
'^^AACM, tomo 2020, exps. 40, 87. 



313 

/\ACM, tomo 2478, exps . 14. 
AACM, tomo 2020, exps. 37. 
"Ai 



Vuxiliares," Sol, 6 junio 1830, p. 4; ibid., 24 

junio 1830, p. 4. 

97 ^ 

Rodriguez de San Miguel, Manual, pp. 102-106. 

9 8 

Auxiliares, p. 4. 

'^AACM, tomo 39 3, exp . 107. 

"Auxiliares," Toro , 17 julio 1834, pp. 178-79. 

^ " AACM, tomo 3690, exp. 66, p. 3. 

1 2 

Ibid. 

AACM, tomo 3689, exp. 32. 

^"'*AACM, tomo 392, exp. 70. 

) 05 

AACM, tomo 4151, exp. 1; tomo 390, exp. 24; tomo 

3690, exp. 66. 

Aj\CM, tomo 291, "Actas de 2 febrero 1829"; tomo 392, 
exp. 70. 

^'''^AACM, tomo 2478, exp. 14. 

108 

Ibid. 

AACM, tomo 390, exps. 19, 23; tomo 39 2, exp. 70. 

AACM, tomo 390, exps. 23, 25; tomo 3690, exp. 66. 

AACM, tomo 391, exp. 34. 

'^"AACM, tomo 390, exp. 25. 

AACM, tomo 390, exps. 20, 30. 

AACM, tomo 390, exps. 20, 25; tomo 392, exp. 70; 

tomo 2020, exp. 40 . ' - ■ 

1 : 5 

Ferry, tomo- 1, pp. 39-41. 

^^^AACM, tomo ,4151, exp. 5. 

117^ 

Almonte. Galvan Rivera, 1842. 

1 1 8 

kkOM, tomo 4151, exp. 6. 

Escriclie, "Juzgados." 

.\ACM, tomo 147, "Actas de 20 junio ]829." "Jueces 
de letras," Siglo Diez y Naeve, 29 octubre 1841, p. 2. 

121 

Rodriguez de San Miguel, Pandectas . 

1 22 

Tylor, p. 248. ' ' 



1 2 3 



AACM, tomo 2478, exp. 12; tomo 4179, exp. 47. 



314 



'''^AACM, tomo 2478, exps . 11, 12. 

1 25 

"Remitido," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 10 octubre 1841, 
p. 3. AACM, tomo 25 78, exp . 12. 

^"S'ylor, p. 248. 

12 7 

"Remitido," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 16 mayo 1846, p. 2. 

AACM, tomo 2479, exp. 18. 

• — 'aACM, tomo 2748, exp. 11. 

1 3 

Ibid. 

] 3 1 

"Remitido," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 21 septiembre 1848, 



p. 3. 



p. 1. 



'^"AACM, tomo 2 749, exp. 14. 



1 3 3 



"Remitido," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 8 septiembre 1848, 



134 
135 
1 3 6 
137 
13 8 
1 39 
1 40 
1 41 
1 42 
1 43 
1 44 
1 45 



'aACM, tomo 2478, exps. 14, 15; tomo 2749, exp. IE 
Ibid. 

"Remitido," Universal, 21 agosto 1850, p. 1. 
AACM, tomo 4163, exps. 462-84. 
AACM, tomos 2889-90. 
AACM, tomo 2478, exp. 12. 
Ibi d . 

AACM, tomo 4158, exp. 332b. 
Latrobe, p. 1.10. 
Mayer, p. 32. 

Garcia Cubas (1945), p. 337. 
Otero, Obras , tomo 2, p. 701. 



CHAPTER SEVEN 



POVERTY AND POLITICS 



Then, finally, they were a new people 
whose eyes shone with liberty and all 
its enchantments. Today they are a 
people who have been deceived a thou- 
sand times and who fear the revolu- 
tions because of the press gangs, be- 
cause of the taxes, and because of 
the oppressions . 

— Jose Maria Lafragua, 1953 



The final chapter of the dissertation examines the 
political behavior of the poor. Since the nature of nineteenth- 
century Mexican politics baffles the experts, the fol]_owing 
simplistic explanation of political factions i.s in order. 
The Mexican political spectrum was divided into two basic 
groups. The first, calling itself Conservador , Centralista, 
and then Monarchista, favored a centralized state, the exis- 
tence of a large standing army, and the preservation of the 
Roman Catholic Church's privileged, semi-independent status. 
The second group, known as the Federalistas or Liberales, 
desired a federated state, the replacement of the professional 
army by a volunteer civic militia, and the disestablishment 
of the Church. 



315 



316 



Lacking cohesion, oi-ganization, and discipline, the 
factions were a loose agglomeration of individuals sharing, 
often temporarily, similar principals. Serious intraf action 
dissension was commonplace. The division between the radical 
(Puros) and moderate (Moderados) Liberals is the most well- 
known example . The Puros, led by Valentin Gomez Farias, de- 
sired the immediate implementation of anticlerical measures. 
Their most controversial goal was the expropriation of Church 
property. The Moderados included among their numbers General 
Mariano Salas, Jose Maria Lafragua, Mariano Otero, and Guillermo 
Prieto. They favored a gradual approach to reforms and were 
totally opposed to expropriation. In February of 1847 the 
Moderados joined with proclerical forces in the Revolution of 
the Polkos to overthrow Vice-President Gomez Farias. 

Centralists and Liberals distrusted mass political 
participation. The refusal of the Church to seriously ex- 
ploit its powerful influence in the barrios illustrates the 
tendency to ignore the poor when other sources of support 
were available. The religious devotion of the poor held 
immense political potential. Mora accused the Church of so 
thoroughly indoctrinating the masses that they could not dis- 
tinguish between a sin and a civil crime. Wien they conmiitted 
a crime, they regarded it as a sin to be forgiven after con- 
trition and penance. The influence of "the clergy entered 
into politics because the people considered it the final 
authority on the laws of man and God. The Church hesitated 



317 



to use its influence among the poor for political meddling. 
The cholera epidemic of 1833 occurred at the height of the 
First Federal Republic's anticlerical reforms. As the epi- 
demic approached central Mexico, the Bishop of Puebla and 
the Ecclesiastical Cabildo of Mexico City circulated pam- 
phlets v;arning that cholera was God's punishment for "public 

2 

sins." The secret sessions of the ayuntamicnto , however, do 

3 
not mention subversive preaching in the barrios.' Considering 

the primitive theology of the poor and the ravages of the 

disease among them, it is unlikely that subversive preaching 

was necessary to convince them that "God's whip" was scourging 

4 

the barrios . 

The Church took stronger action in January 1847 when 
Gomez Farias seized its property to finance the war against 
the United States. On January 14, the day after the publica- 
tion of the confiscatory proclamation, all the churches of 
the capital mysteriously closed their doors. Knowing that 
the closures were intended to terrorize the people, the ayun- 
tamiento swiftly ordered their reopening, but could find 
no cleric with the authority to reopen them. During the 
next three days, priests preached subversion in the Sagrario 
while monks roamed the streets haranguing crowds and distribut- 
ing anti government tracts.' Riots occurred on the sixteenth, 

but lacking coordination and leadership, they posed no serious 

8 
threat to the government. Regidores patrolling the streets 

9 
swiftly restored order. By the seventeenth of January, most 



318 



of the churches had reopened. The Ecclesiastical Cabildo 
lamely defended the closings to the ayuntamiento by claiming 
that it feared progovernment mobs. 

The Church had good reasons not to raise the masses. 
Over a century of Bourbon authoritarianism had ingrained 
the habit of formal obedience to secular authority. The 

government in 1847 referenced colonial legislation when it 

1 1 
demanded the churches reopen. Also, as the largest holder 

of real estate and valuable art, the Church was reluctant to 
inspire rioting that might degenerate into an orgy of looting 
and destruction. The most important reason, however, was 
that it had far more powerful constituents than the masses 
to appeal to when it needed to change a government. There 
was hardly any consequential Mexican family, liberal or 
centralist, that lacked a clergyman for a close relative. 
His influence within it can only be conjectured. The re- 
sources of the Church were discreetly used to h'elp powerful 
conspirators. The churches, monasteries, and convents were 
at the disposal of the wealthy notables who signed the 

antif ederalist Plan de Cuernavaca (June 1834) that petitioned 

1 2 
General Santa Anna to abolish the First Federal Republic. 

In February 1847 the Church made secret contributions to the 

National Guard units that drove Gomez Farias from office." 

The administrators of' convents, themselves guardsmen, actively 

subverted the regiments. 



319 



The politicians courted the poor at election time. 
The moral sanction of electoral victory buttressed inherently 
weak republican autliority. The capital was a political 
weather vane. Regional politicians wishi.ng to make a 
successful alliance observed its election returns carefully. 

Its prestige made elections to its offices essential to the 

1 5 
career of a rising deputy or senator. Benito Juarez, after 

serving as governor of the state of Oaxaca, found it advan- 

1 6 

tageous to run in the capital s primary elections. Control 
of the ayuntamiento was a necessity for conspirators who 
used its funds and administrative machinery to overturn a 

government. Tliis was so in 1828, 1844, and a reasonable if 

1 7 
unproven suspicion of the national government in 1849. 

Mexico City's leaders gained office through a system 

of indirect elections. The electoral law of 1830 provided 

for three elections. In the first election, voters selected 

primary electors who later chose the ayuntamiento and the 

representatives to the national legislature. The national 

1 8 
legislature elected the president of the Republic. The 

law of 1836, which was repeated in the conservative Bases 

organicos of 1842, created an additional election to pick 

secondary electors to choose the ayuntamiento and the national 

1 9 
legislature. Democratic regimes favored the law of 1830; 

more conservative governments, the law" of 1836. Both laws 

were typical of those of early nineteenth-century Europe. 

Their function was to insure that politicians did not gain 

office by pandering to the vAiiras of the poor and uneducated. 



320 



The parishes served as early electoral districts. In 
1823 the allocation of two electors to each parish gave the 
sma] ler parishes political power grossly disproportionate 
to their size. The ayuntamiento corrected the inequity in 
182^1 by alloting each parish one elector for every two thousand 
inhabitants. By 1828 the parishes could select one elector 
for every five hundred inhabitants. The law of 1830 made 
the manzana the official electoral district and granted one 

20 

elector to each one. Although the total number of electors, 
approximated that of 1828, the law gave disporportionate 
power to the smaller manzanas of the Traza. The intent of 
the law, however, was not to disenfranchise the larger manzanas 
of the barrios, but to completely secularize the elections. 

The poor seldom became candidates for political 
office. The 1830 law, which codified the requirements of 
the 1824-1828 period, specified that an elector be twenty- 
five years old, in full possession of his civil rights, and 
a resident of his manzana for at least one year. Since the 
law made no further qualifications for, deputy, any elector 
could be run for Congress. Few of the poor took advantage 
of the opportunity to run for political office. Instead they 

voted for society's traditional elite: lawyers, men of 

2 1 
letters, and military officers. Seventy-five of 132 elec- 
tors were officers, 35 were professionals, 3 were priests, 
4 were merchants, and 3 were artisans in 1827. One of the 

artisans was the wealthy and respected Lucas Balderas; the 

2 2 
other jocularly referred to himself as "El Rebosero." 



321 



Later laws used income restrictions to insure that 
only the wealthy obtained office. The 1836 ].aw specified a 
minimum income of $100 for primary elector, $500 for a member 
of the ayuntamiento , and $1,500 for a deputy. The law of 
1842 specified a minimum income of $200 for a primary elector, 

9 3 

$500 for a secondary elector, and $1,200 for a deputy." 

Any male Mexican, eighteen years of age if married, 
twenty-five if single, solvent, and in full possession of ' 
his civil rights could vote in the constitutional conventions 
of 1823, 1842, and 1848. "''' The law of 1830 repeated these 
liberal requirements for participation in the primary elec- 
tions, provided that an individual was resident in his manzana 

2 5 
for at least one year. Table 38 shows the suprisingly large 



TABLE 38 

VOTER PARTICIPATION, 

PRIMARY ELECTIONS 



Year 



Voters 



1823 
1826 
1827 
1829 
1831 



2,073 
11,465^ 
27,449 
25,238 
12,427 



SOURCES: AACM, tomo 862, 
exps. 8, 12, 15. Jose 
Maria Tornel y Mendivel, 
Breve reseha historica 
(Mexico, D.F. , 1852) p. 
83. "Nombrainientos , " 
Aguila Mexicana , 10 di- 
ciembre 1827, p. 4. 

Number indicates those 
who voted for Yorkino 
candidates only. 



number of people who voted in 
elections held between 1824 
and 1831. The largest number — 
27,444 — voted in 182 7, a year in 
which a Spanish invasion scare 
and political polemics stirred 
popular passions. Although 
only 12,427 voted in 1831, this 
number was 33 percent of the 
38,336 eligible voters. However, 
in all the elections, over half 
of the eligible electorate did 
not bother to cast ballots. The 



322 



partisans of both political factions candidly admitted that 

the great majority of the people were apathetic to the political 

2 6 
issues of the day. 

The conservative law of 1836 restricted the franchise 

to those who earned an annual minimum of $100. The Bases 

2 7 
organicos raised the required minimum income to $200. The 

number of people who voted during the period the laws were 

enforced dropped drastically. The number of eligible voters 

28 
in 1843 was 15,392, or 40 percent of those eligible in 1831. 

In the months prior to an election, commissioners 

appointed by the ayuntamiento registered eligible voters in 

each manzana. Election day morning, the commissioners met 

with the registered voters to form an electoral junta that, 

supervised the elections. Each voter paraded in front of 

the junta, presented his ticket of registration, and announced 

his vote in a "clear, loud voice" before his neighbors. The 

latter provision assured, theoretically, that an unscrupulous 

2 9 
junta would not hoodwink illiterates. 

Voting was pointless because no political faction 

permitted honest elections. The power to appoint election 

commissioners gave an incumbent ayuntamiento unlimited scope 

to rig elections. During the election of 1843, a commissioner 

distributed only nine registration tickets to the residents 

30 

of a heavily populated manzana. Illegally restricting the 

size of the electorate was a crude tool when the control of 
the electoral junta assured victory. During Toluca's 1849 



323 



elections, the liberal juntas, according to monarchist oppo- 
nents, demonstrated a variety of chicanery. Cuartel Menor 
I's junta refused to challenge the residency credentials of 
liberal voters, allowed them to vote more than once, and 
forced anybody who happened to be passing through the 
neighborhood to vote for liberal candidates. It was undis- 
mayed to discover that the ballots cast exceeded the number 
of eligible voters. Cuartel Menor 4's junta allowed only 
voters accompanied by the commissioners to vote. Its secre- 
tary nonchalantly added voters to the supp.ort of friendly 
candidates and badgered other voters into changing their 
minds. l-Jhen a monarchist elector triumphed, the secretary 
disqualified him and finagled the election of a Liberal. 

Elections were disorderly affairs. Nonincumbents 
fought the skulduggery of partisan electoral juntas. During 
the election of June 1840, the Liberals gained control of a 
junta located in the parish of San Miguel. Senor Barrera, 
its president, forced the registrar to falsely certify that 
Lieutenant Colonel Jacob Amat was a resident of the district. 
During the nominations the president acknowledged the nomina- 
tion of Amat, but refused to recognize those of his opponents. 
The proceedings came to an abrupt halt when Father Jose Aguirre 
of San Miguel arrived accompanied by a large crowd of his 
parishioners, declared the election illegal, dissolved the 
junta, and commenced new elections. Fearful of a riot, the 
Liberals withdrew, indignantly complaining that the priest 



324 



was using his prestige to influence the votes of his parish- 

32 
loners . 

A lieutenant colonel in the regular army demonstrated 
another method of dealing with a partisan electoral junta. 
He marched his fully armed regiment from their barracks to 
the distant manzana in which he resided, ordering them to 
vote in formation for the candidate of his choice. The junta 
formally complained that the troops were not residents of 
the manzana, that they earned less than $200 annually, and 
that their presence intimidated the junta and eligible 
voters . 

Wlien threats failed, politicians resorted to violence. 
During the elections of 1842, eight armed men entered a 
voting booth, seized the ballots, and wounded a registrar who 
resisted them. The incident led the arch-conservative Carlos 
Maria Bustamante to huffily remark, "and that is how a 

sovereign people exercise the most sovereign act of their 

,,3 4 
sovereignty. The Liberals turned the secondary elections 

of September 1849 into a "Plaza de Toros" by violently 

assaulting and hospitalizing many Monarchist electors. 

Influential Liberals shared the Conservatives distaste 

for the rowdy elections. Lorenzo de Zavala criticized the 

constitutional referendum of 1824 because the poor voted as 

their traditional leaders bade them or 'traded their votes 

c J - -,3 6 

tor aguardiente or pulque. Mariano Otero disliked the 



demagogery of the liberal electoral triumphs of 1829 and 1833. 



3 7 



325 



Siglo Diez y Nueve complained that the poor picked their 

heroes at election time in the same manner that they decided 

3 8 
the champion of a street fight. This view was shared by 

the editors of Monitor Republicano who wrote that the poor 

were merely the tools of the political parties and were very 

3 9 
fickle because they were attracted to men and not issues. 

As early as 1833, Mora — disgusted with the tumult, corruption, 

and distortions of indirect elections--^suggested that the 

electorate be severely restricted by high property qualifi- 

4 ■ ■ 

cations. 

Judged by its own standards, the system of indirect 

elections was a failure. It encouraged the formation of 

unholy alliances that distorted the opinion of the political 

elite. The elections of July 1849 provide an excellent . 

example of the process. Monarchists and Conservatives 

attributed their victory to a groundswell of popular senti- 

41 
ment . In reality it was due to the incohesiveness of the 

liberal electors who formed a majority at the secondary 

4 2 
elections. Moderados and Puros , however, fell to squabbling 

among themselves. Puros — fearing that the Moderados, who 
formed a relative plurality, would carry the ayuntamiento — 
joined forces with the Monarchists and Santanistas to -elect 
a monarchist ayuntamiento. 

National governments abrogated the results of unfavor- 
able elections. After a liberal victory in 1842, General 
Santa Anna dismissed the electors and called for a new election. 



326 



Noting the highhandedness, Carlos Maria Bustamante commented 
that any election was a useless extravagance as long as Santa 
Anna controlled the army. In June 1833 Valentin Gomez 
Farias dissolved the centralist ayuntamiento and appointed a 

federalist one. A year later Santa Anna reinstated the Cen- 

•1 5 
trails ts. The law of 1836 allowed an incumbent ayuntamiento 

to reelect itself indefinitely, a provision as advantageous 

4 6 
to the Federalists as it was to the Centralists. 

The Liberals held the reputation of being the party 

47 

of the "Sans-Culottes . " There was little in the liberal 
ideology attractive to the poor. It was extremely vague and 
inchoate. Most of the party's supporters were hostile to 
"clerical and Hispanic elements" and hence identified them- 
selves as members of the party of progress. Their vacuity 
led the wags to say that an aspiring Liberal had an image 

of the Virgen de Guadalupe on the crown of his sombrero 

48 
and an obscure plan to regenerate the nation m his pocket. 

The policy delineated in the writings of Mora, which Gomez 
Farias attempted to implement, called for the creation of a 
civil militia to reduce the power of the army, the expropria- 
tion of Church property, and its eventual redistribution 
among the middle classes, the disestablishment of the 
ChurcVi to reduce its political influence, and the creation 

of a federation to erradicate the dangers to republicanism 

4 9 
inherent m a centralized staue. 



327 



The only liberal policy directly relevant to the 
poor was the tariff protection favored by an important seg- 
ment of the party. In 1828 Vicente Guerrero rallied 
artisans to his cause by proposing and implementing a ban of 
the importation of foreign manufactures. The following 
document shows that the Liberals used the issue to gather 
support in preparation for the constitutional referendum of 
1846. 



Our enemies bring in their rear guard 
numerous magazines of their manufactures 
in order to protect their industry and 
to annihilate our workshops and our 
- agriculture so that by enlarging the 
wealth of our country, the government 
will be offered more certain resources 
than those lent by the maritime customs 
subject to blockade and contraband and 
so that we can avail ourselves of the 
good order of our industrial establish- 
ment . 

Let the Republic impose upon its 
supporters the obligation to prefer 
national manufactures to those of the 
foreigners in order to avoid the flight 
of capital and to favor the occupation 
of our manufacturing class because indus- 
try is the force which makes nations 
strong and powerful; and for that reason 
enlightened governments and peoples have 
advanced all industrial branches . . . 
at the cost of great sacrifices and in 
order to impose, by way of commerce, the 
enslavement of the people I There is no 
other origin and object for the present 
war : 5 " 



The Turos, however, were obdurate free traders. In Chapter 
One, I noted that economic necessity often drove the best- 
intentioned regimes to abandon protectionism. 



328 



Conservatives unfairly accused Liberals of overtaxing 

51 
the rich. The direct taxes of centralist regimes in 

theory placed far greater burdens upon the rich. The con- 
cept of socially equitable taxation was anathema to the 
Liberals. In September ,1846 Gomez Farias proposed that the 
poor contribute their lives and the ricli their wealth to the 
struggle against the United States. The furor that the 

announcement created among the most ardent Liberals resulted 

5 "^ 
m Its immediate retraction. 

Puro determination to expropriate Church property 
tainted liberalism with economic radicalism. Their inten- 
tions were not shared by the Moderados who viewed Church 

property as private property guaranteed by the federal con- 

5 3 
stitufion of 1824. Jose Maria Lafragua, Guillerrao 

Prieto, and Mariano Otero, all prominent Liberals, argued 
against the confiscations of 1847, claiming that the usur- 
pation of private property must inevitably result in 
grosser violations of political liberties.""* All .partici- 
pated in the Revolution of the Polkos. 

The ultimate liberal goal was to create a propertied 
middle class through the distribution of Church wealth. The 
absurdity of their reputed hostility to property is illus- 
trated by their behavior during October 1847 when a rumor of 
a riot against property swept through the city. The liberal 
Monitor Republicano reported the rumor and editorialized on 

property 



the patent immorality of attacking private property. ^^ The 



329 



polemics accompanying the expropriation debate had politi- 
cized the volunteer national guard units defending the city 
against the advancing .North Americans. The Batallon de Victoria 
which consisted of wealthy merchants sided witli the clerical- 
conservative faction. Liberal civil servants, professionals, 
students, and artisans honeycombed the ranks of the Indepen- 
dencia and Hidalgo battalions. At the news of the riots, all 
three battalions hastily armed and took to the streets, re- 
sclved to defend private property against the phantom rioters.^*' 

The Liberals undeniably cultivated lower-class support. 
Conservatives alleged that the civil militia was armed rabble 
in the pay of their enemies. Francisco Arrangoiz accused the 
mi].itia of 1833 of being the "sweepings of the jail" and 
the "lowest portion of society." His accusation was 
echoed by Carlos Maria Bustamante who wrote that the leperos 
who rioted in 1838 were the same class of men who formed 
"los civicos" of 1828. The roster of civil militia 
called to active duty in May 1834 contains a polyglot of 

artisans, unskilled laborers, and merchants, but very few 

jr - 5 5 
professionals. Because the economic status of members of 

the same occupational groups varied greatly, the evidence 
of the roster is inconclusive. ' ■ 

The issue of V7hether or not the civil militia received 
pay is more important than its social composition. The mili- 
tia's compensation was nominal to avoid the danger of it 
evolving into a professional army. The evidence suggests 



330 



that the Libertils perverted the civil militia into their 
own paid paramilitary force. The legal pay of the 1828 

militia was $2 to $5 monthly, depending on the branch of 

60 
service. Its actual pay was higher. In 1846 the Monitor 

Republicano printed this letter from a Moderado national 

guardsman arguing against the payment of the guard: 



Remember that the payment of the civic 
militia with other things was the reason 
that the civicos prostituted tliemselves 
in 1828, and thus one saw them mix them- 
selves in every mutiny.''^ 



In 1833 Gomez Farias created the Batallon Sexto of 
the civic militia to thwart an impending coup. Its pay of 
three reals daily approximated the city's average wage. 
The unit may have formed a paid cadre that the liberal 
leader used in later revolutions. Carlos Maria Bustamante 
described Gomez Farias during the July 1840 coup standing 
in the presidential palace hiring "leperos (or rather civicos)" 



at $2 each and gloating "all these are mine, they love 



me 



and obey me." The gossipy arch-conservative cannot be 
considered a reliable source. However, just prior to the 
Revolution of the Polkos, Vice-President Gomez Farias used 
the Liber tad battalion of the National Guard, commanded by 
his son and other Puros as a paid private array. The Monitor 
Republicano accused the battalion of being the only national 
guard unit to have received pay from the national government. 



331 



In January 1847 the battalion clumsily purged the officers 
of units hostile to the Puros. 

Estranged from the professional army and the Church, 
the Liberals needed the brute force of plebian rioters. 
Lower-class rioting was a notorious part of the Republic's 
tumultuous politics. In December 1828 the pueblo bajo 
helped the federalist civic militia to overthrow President^ 
Elect Manuel Gomez Pedraza and celebrated by sacking and 
burning the Parian. Ten years later they flooded the streets 
in a vain effort to force centralist president Anastasio 
Bustamante to restore the Federal Republic. In 1844 their 
rioting thwarted an attempt of General Antonio Lopez de 
Santa Anna to establish a dictatorship. Five years later 
the mob's fury frightened a monarchist ayuntamiento into 
resigning. 

The sack of the Parian introduced rioting to repub- 
lican politics. Its violence scarred the memories of the 
propertied classes. Nobody who witnessed the destruction 
forgot it. Francisco Ibar, a professor of painting, recalled 
the looting two months after it occurred. 



One could see in the streets leperos 
burdened with their loot, soldiers 
and officers with sabers in hand con- 
ducting to their homes the fruit of 
their perfidity and ambition: the 
strongest and most daring preyed 
upon the weakest, overpowering them 
and stripping them of their loot. 



332 



One noticed only the sabers and clubs, 
and one saw in all the faces the rabidity 
of the most savage and inhuman cannibals. 



Guillermo Prieto, ten years old at the time of the revolution, 
wrote of the sack, 



Upon this emporium, upon this temple of 
good taste, feel the avalanche of the 
furies of the sack that exalted a 
savage invasion of thefts and iniquities. 

They broke down doors, flung jewelry 
and fine lace to the ground, smashed 
strongboxes to pieces, wounded each 
otlier, and smothered themselves carrying 
off their loot, and neither delirium 
nor fire nor earthquake could give an 
idea of that invasion to the eternal 
shame and opprobrium of its authors.^' 



Thereafter the fear of the masses always lurked in 
the minds of the ruling classes regardless of political 
affiliation. As the city's garrison marched off to put down 
a federalist uprising in October 1832, the axjuntamiento 
debated whether the six hundred men of the Security Corps 
and the Corps of Invalids were sufficient to cope with "all 
the conspiracies that exist for a sacking." In July 1840 
Fanny Calderon de la Barca expressed the fears of the foreign 

community that a federalist victory would bring in its wake 

6 9 
noting and looti.ng. In October 1846 rumors spread through 

7 

the city that a riot against property was imminent. Two 
years later rumors that upon the evacuation of the city by ' 



333 



North American troops, the low people would rise in a "War 

of the Castes" to commit "murder, robbery, and all types of 

II J , .71 

crimes unnerved the ayuntannento . 

The sackings feared in 1832 and 1841 never happened. 

The rumor of the riot against property proved to be a 

political deception aimed at delaying an impending con- 

7 2 

stitutional convention. The caste war feared in 1848 was 

a feeble effort of Santanistas wishing to discredit the 

7 3 
Federation and repudiate the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. 

The absence of rioting on these occasions proves that the 

propertied classes exaggerated the significance of the 

Parian. The following analysis will argue that the riots 

were a traditional, relatively harmless form of lower-class 

protest harnessed to the. needs of liberal politicians. 

Although a menace to unpopular regimes, they did not endanger 

the existing social order. 

Rioting is a traditional and universal method of 

expressing lower-class discontent over such basic matters 

7 4 

as impressment or high food prices. In Mexico City 
serious rioting to protest hard times broke out as early as 

7 5 

1624 and 1692. After independence bread riots occurred 
during the copper currency devaluations of 1837 and 1841. 
The riots followed a common pattern. Crowds formed in 
front of the ayuntamiento to protest the rising prices. 
Sensitive to the suffering of the people and mindful of the 
potential damage of a riot, the municipality would ineffectually 



33^ 



peg prices and petition the national government to halt the 
devaluation. The mob might hurl insults or threats at 
the government. The mob of 1837 chanted in derision: 



Jesus Christ in his passion 
made' the tliief an honest man, 
the Congress by its pleasure 
makes the honest man a tiiief.'^' 



But no violence was offered against the government or its 
representatives. The mob's targets were always the maize and 
grocery stores whose high prices or hoarding it considered to 

7 P, 

be the immediate source of suffering. 

As long as 'politicians remained aloof from the 
rioters, the political order was unthreatened . The political 
neutrality of the bread riot and its potential for politi- 
zation is illustrated by a petition of the ayuntamiento to 
the national congress in 1837. It noted that although the 
rising prices had driven Queretaro's poor to sack their 
granary, Mexico City's poor remained calm. The petition 
warned, however, that if food remained scarce, "an upheaval 
of grave seriousness to the political order was bound to 
occur." Not because the rioters themsel.ves were subversive 
but because 



the enemies of actual institutions who 
never miss an opportunity whenever they 
can to contribute with their machina- 



335 



tions, instantly taking advantage of 

any occasion that comes to their hands 

to conspire against the constituted 
authorities . '^ '' 



The rioting of 1828 and 18A4 was underpinned by a 
solid foundation of suffering. In 1828 Mexican artisans 
were reeling from the impact of the competition of cheap and 

U - 1 1 ■ r ■ r- 8 

technically superior foreign manufactures. In February 
1827 and March 1828, the authorities conducted mass arrests 
of "vagrants and those without work to occupy themselves." 
The vagrancy problem of these years forced the national 
government to establish the Tribunal de Vagos. It was 
during the March 1828 antivagrancy campaign that regidor de 



la Cadena penned his defense of the unemployed artisans of 

Q 1 

the wards under his supervision. On November 20, scarcely 
two weeks before the revolution, the governor general of the 
Distrito Federal responded to a shortage of money by pegging 
the price of foodstuffs. 

Guillerrao Prieto and Niceto Zamacois attributed the 
Great Popular Revolution of 1844 entirely to the political 
oppressions of General Santa Anna and General Canalizo.^'' 
They ignored the extraordinary sufferings' chat the profli- 
gate and bankrupt regime inflicted upon the poor, described 
in this letter to Slglo Diez y Nueve: 



The lowest classes were principally 
those who suffered. The scarce bread 



336 



provided to them by painful work was 
decreased by excise and direct taxes. 
Artisans and laborers were dragged from 
their workshops and fields to go and 
die on the mortiferous coasts of Vera 
Cruz.^^ 



The regime's crass insensitivity to the problems it created 
rasped against the nerves made raw from want. While General 
Santa Anna attended a sumptuous diplomatic banquet at his 
palace in March 1843, 



many miserable persons and unpaid civil 
servants ambled aimlessly outside the 
building muttering over their fate. An 
infinity of poor people searched anxiously 
for bread, maize, and anything that they 
could eat. The bakeries were guarded in 
order to contain the actions of those un- 
fortunates tormented by their misery, and 
everything was worsened because the mer- 
ciless speculators devaluated the copper 

o c 

money . 



The year 1844 saw no improvement. In the spring the 
Semanario Artistico petitioned the government to alleviate 
the problems caused by its bankruptcy. Throughout the 
summer and fall, the pages of the official newspaper were 
filled with the government's protests that it was not 
responsible for its insolvency and lame promises that it would 
pay the bureaucracy. On November 15, two weeks before the 
rioting, the commissioner of markets announced to the ayunta- 
rniento that the price of foodstuffs had inexplicably risen 25 
percent m a single day. 



337 



Bread rioting might have been the only result of the 
hard times o£ 1828 and 1844 had not the suffering coincided 
with periods of acute political tension. In 1828 the 
Federalists feared for the life of the Republic. Mexico 
was in a state of anxiety over an impending Spanish invasion 
and the expected subversion of Spaniards resident in Mexico. 
In September 1827 Father Arenas, a Spanish priest, concocted 
a harebrained scheme to restore the Bourbons and was ex- 
ecuted for his efforts. Bowing to Anti-Spanish pressure, the 
government of General Guadalupe Victoria reluctantly 
issued a decree expelling the Spaniards but deliberately 
failed to enforce it. 

Four years of intense political factionalism pre- 
ceded the Revolution of the Acordada. The Centralists, whose 
members were organized into the Scottish-rite Masonic lodge 
and called the Escoces, upheld the centralist Spanish con- 
stitution of 1812 and would permit the Spaniards to remain in 
Mexico. The Federalists, who were members of the York- 
rite Masonic lodge and called Yorkinos wished to preserve 
the federal Constitution of 1824 and expel the Spanish. 
In the presidential election of 1828, Manuel Gomez Pedraza, 
a Centralists, defeated Vicente Guerrero, a Yorkino, by one 
electoral vote. Accusations were rife among Yorkinos that 

Gomez Pedraza had used his powers as minister of war to 

< I • 1 ■ 8 9 
rig the primary elections. On November 30, 1828, disgruntled 



338 



Federalists gathered with the capital's civic militia, with 
elements of the regular army, and with large masses of "the 
people" at the Acordada to begin the first revolution in 
Mexico's political history. 

Lorenzo de Zavala, the Yorkino most intimately 
associated with the Revolution of the Acordada, insisted 

that a coordinated conspiracy never existed and that the 

9 
rising was spontaneous. The secret meetings of the Yorkino 

aijuntamiento reveal that for a year prior to the revolution, 

it was preparing to preserve the Federation by every means 

at its disposal. In October 1827, Lucas Balderas and 

Lizardo Azcarate, then the municipal sindicos , noting that 

the conspiracy of Father Arenas presaged further Spanish 

9 1 
subversion, urged the strengthening of the civic militia. 

In the following year Balderas became a regidor and the 
commander of the militia's artillery battalion. Alluding 
to the Spanish threat, regidor de la Cadena suggested in 
January 1828 that the alcaldes auxiliares be appointed on 
the basis of their unswerving loyalty to the Federation. 
By spring, the strengthening of the civic militia was in 
progress and absorbing an unduly large portion of its com- 
mander's time. In May, regidor de la Cadena declined an 

appointment to the Theater Commission because it would inter- 

9 '> 

fere with his duties as commander of the infantry battalion. 

In tlie light of the ayuntamiento^ s militant preparations, 
the protestation of De Zavala that the rising occurred 
spontaneously challenges credulity. 



339 



Federalists and Centralists needed lower-class support 
in 1844, for the life of the Republic was again at stake. 
In November General Santa Anna, disgusted with the continual 
criticism of his regime by the press and the national legis- 
lature, attempted to abrogate the conservative Bases organicos 
and impose a military dictatorship. While Santa Anna was 
with the bulk of the army in Queretaro suppressing an 
insurrection, General Canalizo, the interim president, 

closed the legislature. On December 3 he demanded that 

9 3 
Civil servants take a loyalty oath to the regime. " In a 

defiant mood, the national legislature moved to the 

convent of San Francisco and debated the deposition of 

General Santa Anna. While packed galleries listened to 

the inflammatory oratory of the deputies, businesses closed 

and crowds milled dangerously in the streets. Soon rioting 

broke out that the city's garrison did not attempt to 

contain. By December 5 the troops had declared in favor 

of the rebellious deputies and General Canalizo had fled the 

city. On December 7 the ayuntamiento publicly thanked the 

people and the garrison for their contribution to the 

■ 95 
victory. 

The direct role of the politicians in provoking 

the rioting of 1844 was well known. The day after the 

closure of the congress, two liberal deputies were in the 

barrios haranguing and organizing the people for a riot."" 

Jose Maria Lafragua, a liberal statesman wrote that obtaining 



340 



control of the ayuntamiento was essential to the success of 

9 7 
the revolutions. The ayuntamiento certainly did its share 

of rabble rousing. On November 30 it debated the feasibility 

of publicly declaring its adherence to the federalist Plan 

de Jalisco. Regidor Canedo, the ayuntamiento' s sole Santan- 

ista, opposed the move on the grounds that the ayuntamiento 

was not supposed to involve itself with politics. A public 

declaration in favor of the plan, Canedo warned, would 

reduce politics to the "logic of the tavern or cafe," raise 

an idol to the plebe and cause a popular mutiny. Mocking 

ft o 

the Santanistas objections, the rebels published the plan. 

Men as well as hunger rallied the poor to the liberal 
causes. They possessed a cadre of men of "great influence in 

the barrios" whose conspiratorial meetings presaged every 

. .. 9 9 
rising. Lucas Baldera, the military tailor, was influential 

10 

among artisans. Manuel de la Cadena defended the unem- 
ployed in the cuarteles under his supervision against arbi- 
trary impressment and imprisonment as vagrants. Jose Maria 

del Rio, the owner of a pastry shop, personally organized 

10 1 
the rioting of 1849. 

Other Liberals displayed an earthy machismo that the 
common people loved. Wealthy young Juan Jose Baz while serv- 
ing as a judge once fined a lepero. Angered by the sentence, 
the lepero insulted Baz and challenged him to a fist fight. 
The young judge accepted the challenge, thrashed his oppo- 

. 10'' 

nent, and magnanimously paid the fine. " Gomez Farias 



341 



skil],fully harangued crowds and once led an ill-trained and 

1 3 

armed battalion of civic militia against a rebel regiment. 
The poor venerated the human symbols of the inde- 
pendence movement manipulated by the Liberals. They 

idolized Vincente Guerrero because he was a mestizo military 

1 4 
hero. The following quotation from Guillermo Prieto 

alleges to be their understanding of the Revolution of the 

Acordada. 



President Victoria who is in the palace 
supports Gomez Pedraza; and the Yorkinos 
with Zavala, governor of the state of 
Mexico, and Lobato wishes that the black 
Guerrero, who fought with the old insur- 
gents, rule us at all costs. ■'■^^ 



Guerrero was deposed and executed by the followers of Anas- 
tasio Bustamante in 1830, During the federalist coup of 
1832 against Bustamante, the poor chanted for the downfall 

of the government whose "infamous treason" killed their 

] 6 
hero . 

Father Hidalgo, the leader of the 1810 rebellion 
against the Spaniards, was another plebian hero. The elec- 
tion of the monarchist ayuntamiento in July 1849 did not 
alarm the poor. The Monarchists, however, sealed their 
fate on September 16 when their newspaper, the Universal , 

published an editorial villifying Father Hidalgo and his 

1 7 
followers. Liberal politicians publicized the editorial 

in tlie barrios and exploited the consequent anger in later 

1 8 
noting. 



342 



. . Misinterpretations abound concerning the rioting. 
The desire for loot is a traditional explanation of the 
rioters' motives. Francisco Ibar and Guillermo Prieto - 
described the Parian's looters as leperos meaning that they 
belonged to the criminal underclass rather than to the ranks 
of the honest, laboring poor. Francisco Arrangoiz makes 
the distinction more explicitly. 



The people did not take part in these 
movements even xdien, as in the capital, 
they were exhorted to participate in 
the sack upon which only that portion 
of evildoers who are the scum of society 
delivered themselves to it; and they 
abound in all the great cities of the 
world — not the laboring people, the 
honored artisan, victim like the highest 
class of the crimes of that rabble and 
undisciplined soldiery.''"'-^ 



Naturally the political beneficiaries of the riots identified 
their allies simply as the "people" (pueblo, gente del pueblo) 
Lfnfortunately the police records availiible Co George Rude 
wlien he identified Parisian and English rioters are un- 
available in Mexico.' In Chapter Six, however, the leperos 
were defined not as a criminal class, but as a cross-section 
of the laboring poor driven to crime and vagrancy by underem- 
ployment and unemployment. 

Serious looting and murder undeniably occurred at the 
Parian. In later years federalist leaders tried to minimize 
its extent. Mora maintained that the rioting, in which five 



343 



thousand participated, was tame in comparison to the first 
stage of the French Revolution or the Lord Gordon Riots.^^^ 
De Zavala, who was in the presidential palace when the looting 
broke out, stated, 



It is very rare that a sack can be con- 
tained on the afternoon of the first 
day, being worthy of note that no 
robbery at all occurred during the 
night and although the next morning 
some looting did occur, the excesses 
did not last longer than two hours.''12 



De Zavala added that the value of the property destroyed was 
not the $4 million reported by Henry Ward but $2 million. 

The recriminations of Liberals and Centralists ob- 
scure the fact that many contemporaries interpreted the 
sacking as a legitimate act of war, regrettable or despicably 
punitive depending on one's political affiliation. Jose 
Maria Tornel called the Parian "the booty of the immoral war 
that held the city prisoner."" " Two Yorkino regidores re- 
ferred to it as "contraband of war acquired by arms and 

] 1 4 
offered spontaneously."" 

Sacking as a legitimate part of military operations 

existed in Latin America, Europe, and the United States as 

late as the final half of the nineteenth century. During 

Latin America's wars of independence, soldiers subduing 

a rebellious city had the right to pillage the property of 

the vanquished provided that the surrender was unconditional.^'^ 



344 



During the Revolution of the Acordada, the gente del pueblo 
and the civic militia had fought a prolonged struggle against ■ 

men they believed to be traitors. Government forces inflicted 

1 1 6 
heavy casualties on the insurgents. Indiscriminate gun- 
fire, easily blamed on the government, slew and wounded the 

n. 7 
innocents who huddled in their homes. The actual sacking 

occurred after government forces had ceased resistance, but 

before De Zavala had negotiated the final articles of capi- 

tulation with President Guadalupe Victoria. 

Francisco Ibar wrote that General Lobato offered 

the Parian to his soldiers and their civilian allies in 

compensation for their sacrifices. Others believed that it 

was an undisciplined mutiny, the act of a savage mob that 

1 1 9 
could have been contained by its commanders. The minutes 

of the ayuntamiento clearly reveal that the Yorkinos lured 
"the people" to their banners with promises of legitimate 
booty. On January 5, 1829, the ayuntamiento decided to re- 
store stolen property to "American" but not to "Spanish" 
families. A fair-minded sindico reminded the council that 
the constitution of Mexico protected all private property 
regardless of the owner's nationality. A colleague replied 
that the Spaniards' property had been "acquired by the right 
of conquest in which case they cannot recover that which has 
been sacked from them. This was the spirit of the ideas 
preached to the people and the understanding of the ayunta- 

12 

miento." In contrast to its indifference to the plight of 



345 



the Parian's Spanish merchants, the municipality did its 
ineffectual best to protect all the inhabitants from the 

looting of marauding militiamen during the two months of 

1 21 
anarchy that followed the revolution. 

The controversy stirred by the Parian's looting 
masks the basic intentions of the rioters. Lacking a poli- 
tical philosophy or a long-range goal, they vented their 
rage upon the visible symbols of unpopular regimes . The 
Parian was the logical target of the victorious insurgents 
of 1828. It represented the colonial monopoly of commerce 
and industry and potential Spanish subversion. Within its 
walls in 1808, the Spaniards plotted the arrest of Viceroy 
Iturrigaray who had ingratiated himself to native Mexicans 

12 2 

by cultivating their friendship. "" In 1828 Mexicans owned 
most of the market's stalls, but its association with the 
Spaniards and conspiracy was still strong. Two Yorkino 
regidores explained the mob's fury: 



It is said that it is an object of the 
people's hatred because it was believed 
that the Spaniards were the Parian's sole 
tenants: they held their secret meetings 
there and forged all their plans and con- 
spiracies to attack liberty, insult us, 
and place us forever under insupportable 
tyranny. For the same reason, the people 
detested the building because it was the 
fortress of dominating tyrants for which 
they wanted to remove it from sight or 
try to destroy it as many times as they 
could. 



346 



General Santa Anna's megalomania encouraged the 
"rioters of 1844 to vent their wrath on less-valuable targets 
than the stalls of the Parian. On the morning of December 2 
the statue of Santa Anna located in the Plaza del Volador was 
draped in the white gown of condemned criminals, a tightened 
noose da.nglmg from its neck. Later that day the mob 
tore down another statue of the general that stood in front 

12 5 

of the national theatre. It then moved to the national 
cemetery where it disinterred the leg that Santa Anna had 
lost to a French cannon ball at Vera Cruz and dragged it 
good-naturedly in the direction of the Plaza del Volador. 
The plaza's merchants feared pillaging, but to their relief 
the mob only wished to tear down the second statue of the 
dictator. A captain of the Grenadiers accompanied by a few 
soldiers easily persuaded the rioters to disperse after 
leading them in a few ''vivas" for the Federation. They 
returned again that night, but by then the doors of the 
stalls were shuttered, and the authorities had wisely 
removed the offending statue. " On December 7, the day 
that General Canalizo resigned, shops were opening for 
business and the people returning to work."^^' 

The targets of the rioters of 1849 were the homes of 
the monarchist ayuntamiento . Except for the stoning of win- 
dows, little violence occurred. The entire affair took on 
a carnival atmosphere as military bands accompanied the 
rioters and government agents exploded rockets. '^^ Similar 



347 



restraint was shown by the mob that celebrated the abrupt 
end of General Santa Anna's last regime (1853-1855). On 
August 13, 1855, the mob sacked the offices of the monarchist 
newspaper Universal and the homes of the dictator and his 
chief ministers. It spared, however, a grocery store and 
a tailor shop that adjoined the homes. Wlien a liberal 
agent ordered them to stop, their spokesman indignantly 
replied that they were not robbing but punishing the traitor 

] 29 

who had sold the Mesilla. 

Francisco Lopez Camara has stated that the participa- 

130 
tion of rioters in revolutions was often decisive. His 

statement is incorrect. The key to a successful rising was 

military support. Rioting. served only to intimidate the 

indecisive or weak. The Yorkinos of 1828 had at their 

disposal three battalions of civic militia and elements of 

the regular army. Combat operations were conducted in a 

military fashion. Civilians aided insurgent troops by 

1 3 2 
moving cannon, carrying munitions, and evacuating wounded. 

The rioting of December 1838 reached "very serious" pro- 
portions but failed because the capital's garrison remained 
loyal to the government. In 1844 the bulk of the army 
was at Queretaro, and the mob roaming in the streets 
persuaded a weak and partially subverted garrison to declare 
its loyalty to the national congress. The rioters of 1849 
had the full support of General Mariano Arista, the liberal 
minister of war who wished to avoid the blatant dissolution 



348 



ot the ayuntamiento. In their resignation message to the 

national government, the Monarchists pointedly noted how the 
government encouraged the disorders . ^ ^^ Jose Maria Lafragua 
stated the necessity of military support when he described 
his anxieties while preparing for the coup against General 
Pai-edes y Arrillaga ' (August 4, 1846). 



But my material elements were very slight 
because the Liberals had neither money 
nor soldiers, necessary ingredients for 
every revolution. The truth is that 
public opinion was ours, but public 
opinion does not win revolutions.'"^^ 



The Liberals were ashamed of their association with 
rioting. Salado Alvarez, the chronicler of the fall of 
General Santa Anna's last regime, wrote that rioting was 
" justified to drive tyrants from office but "stains the 

-toy 

enthusiasm for popular triumplis." ' Mora himself issued 
the most damning indictment, writing that because of the 
Parian's destruction, the Yorkino's moment of victory was 
also their moment of defeat. ' 

The attraction of the poor to liberal causes was 
fleeting. Cloaked in passive indifference, they witnessed 
the downfall of every regime that their rioting placed in 
power. Reduced to misery by economic depression and politi- '. 
cal anarchy, they became progressively disillusioned with the 
Republic. Jose Maria Lafragua described the difference between 



349 



the partisans flocking to the banners of Father Hidalgo and 
the apathetic onlookers watching the heretic North Americans 
overrun their nation. 



Then finally tliey were a new people whose 
eyes shone with liberty and all its en- 
chantments. Today they are a people who 
have been deceived a thousand times and 
who fear the revolutions because of the 
press gangs, taxes, and oppressions . ^ -^ "^ 



Notes 



Mora, Mexico, tomo 1, p. 458. 

2 

Hutchinson, p. 22. 

^AACM, tomo 293. 

4 
Hutchinson, p. 22. 

""Noticias," Monitor Republicano, 17 enero 1847, p. 4. 
6 

AACM, tomo 168, "Actas de 14 enero 1847." 
7 

"Noticias," Monitor Republicano, 16 enero 1847, p. 2. 

"Noticias," 17 enero 1847, p. 4. Malo, tomo 1, p. 311. 
9 
"Noticias," 16 enero 1847, p. 2. AACM, tomo 300, 
"Actas de 14 enero 1847." 

1 

AACM, tomo 2266, "Bando de 14 enero 1847." "Noticias," 

17 enero 184 7, p. 4. 

1. 1 

AACM, tomo 168, "Actas de 14 enero 1847." 

"AACM, tomo 2279, exp . 1. 
1 3 

Michael P. Costeloe, "The Mexican Church in the Re- 
bellion of the Polkos," Hispanic American Historical Review, 
May 1966, pp. 170-78. 

1 '1 

Lafragua, pp. 44-47. 

1 5 

"Elecciones," Monitor Republicano, 18 junio 1844, 
p. 1. 



p. 4 



350 



1 6 

AACM, tomo 873, exp. 19. 

1 7 

"Elecciones, " Monitor Repuhlicano , 12 julio 1849, 



1 » ^ 

Dublan and Lozano, tomo 2, ley 841. 
1 9 

Ibid., tomo 3, ley 1796; tomo 4, ley 2581. 
20 

AACM,^tomo 873, exps . 2, 3; tomo 872, exp. 16; tomo 
862, exp. 8. Dublan and Lozano, tomo 2, ley 1796. 

21 - 

Lorenzo de 2avala, Ensayo historico de las revolu- 
ciones de Mexico desde 1808 hasta 1830, 1 tomos (Mexico D F 
1845) , tomo 1, p. 2 79. ' ' 



9 9 



AACM, tomo 873, exp. 3. 
23 ^ 

Dublan and Lozano, tomo 3, ley 1796; tomo 4 lev 
2581. . ' 

24 

AACM, tomo 873, exp. 13. 
25 ^ 

Dublan and Lozano, tomo 2, ley 841. AACM, tomo 862 
exp. 15. ' 

2 6 

"Elecciones de ayuntamiento , " siglo Diez y Nueve, 
10 septiembre 1848, p. 2. "Partidos politicos," Monitor Re- 
publicano, 28 junio 1849, p. 3. 
27 _ 

Dublan and Lozano, tomo 3, ley 1796; tomo 4, ley 25,31 
28 

AACM, tomos 34ll, 3412. 
29 ^ 

Dublan and Lozano, tomo 2, ley 841. 

AACM, tomo 873, exp. 3. 
31 ,, 
■ , Elecciones," Universal, 29 septiembre 1849, p. 2 
32 

AACM, tomo 872, exp. 10. 

33 

Ibid . , exp .11. 

34 

Bustamante, Apuntes , p. 42. 
3 5 , 

"Elecciones secundarias , " Universal, 11 septiembre 
1849 , p . 3. 

3 6 

De Zavala, tomo 1, p. 2 79. 
37 

Otero, Ensayo, p. 70. 
38 „ 

Elecciones de ayuntamiento," p. 2. 
39„ 

Partidos politicos," pp. 3-4. De Zavala, tomo 1 
p. 45. ' 

4 

Mora, Mexico, tomo 1, p. 284. 
. ■ 41 ,, 

Elecciones secundarias," Universal, p. 3. 
4 2,, 

Elecciones," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 19 julio 1849 
pp. 3-4. 

4 3 ,, 

Elecciones," Monitor Repuhlicano, 19 julio ] 849 
pp. 3-4. J ■ - , 



351 



Bustamante , Apuntes , p. 112. 

45 

AACM, tomo 862, exp . 24. 

4 6 ^ 

Dublan and Lozano, tomo 3, ley 1796. 

47 

Carlos Maria Bustamante, Invasion de Mexico por D. 

Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna (Mexico, D.F., 1832), p. 27. 
"Prieto (1964) , p. 298. 

4 9 

Mora, Mexico, tomes 1-3. 

AACM, tomo 22 66, p. 51. 

51 

Bustamante, Invasion, p. 27. 

5 2 

Zamacois, tomo 12, p. 517. 

5 3 

"Rumores?" Monitor Republicano, 24 enero 1847, p. 3, 
54 

Lafragua, pp. 44-47. 

"Rumores?" p. 3. 

"Tumulto," Monitor Republicano, 14 octubre 1846, 

p. 4. 

5 7^, 

i'rancisco de Paula de Arrangoiz, Mejico desde 1808 

hasta 1867, 4 tomos (Madrid, 1871-1872), tomo 2, p. 217. 
Bustamante, El gahinete, tomo 2, pp. 145-50. 
AACM, tomo 32 75, exp. 113. 
"aaCM, tomo 32 74, exp. 105. 
"Remitido," Monitor Republicano, 18 noviembre 1846, 



p. 4. 



3. 



AACM, tomo 3274, exp. 91. 

Bustamante, El gabinete, tomo 2, p. 64. 
6 4 

Revolucioh," Monitor Republicano, 26 febrero 1847, 



65 ,, 

Guardia nacional," Monitor Republicano, 14 febrero 
1844, p. 3. 

66 

Francisco Ibar, Muerte politico de la republica 

mexicana (Mexico, D.F., 1829), tomo 2, p. 20. 

''^Prieto (1964) , p. 34. 

6 8 

AACM, tomo 152, "Actas de 12 octubre 1832." 

6 9 

Calderon de la Barca, p. 303. 

^AACM, tomo 168, "Actas de 12 octubre 1846." 
71 

AACM, tomo 168, "Actas de 10 mayo y 23 mayo 1848." 

7 2 

"Remitido," Monitor Republicano, 18 octubre 1846, 
p. 1. 



352 



7 3 

"Remitido," Monitor Republicano, 2 3 mayo 1848, p. 3. 
74 

George Rude, The Crowd in History (New York, 1964). 
Kaplow, p. 24. G. M. Trevelyan, England in the Age of Wycliffe 
5th ed. (New York, 1963), p. 76. 

75 

Rosa Feijoo, "El tumulto de 1624," Historia Mexicana 
(julio-septiembre 1964), pp. 39-45. Idem., "El tumulto de 
1692," Historia Mexicana (abril-junio 1965), pp. 656-79. 

^\ACM, tomo 32 84, exp . 14. 

Zamacois, tomo 11, p. 132. 

78 . 

AACM, tomo 3284, exp. 10. 

79 

Ibid. 

8 

Chavez Orozco , Documentos , "Introduccion. " 
8 1 

AACM, tomo 4151, exps. 4, 5. 
82 

Ibar, p. 3. 

8 3 

Prieto (1964), p. 365. Zamacois, tomo 12, p. 498. 

8 4,, 

Remitido, Siglo Diez y Nueve , 29 diciembre 1844, 



2. 



pp. 1-2. 

87 



Bustamante, Apuntes , p. 33. 
8 6,, 

Compromise," Semanario Artistico, 27 abril 1844, 



1844) 



Diario Oficial, nos. 3350-439 (agosto-noviembre 



88 

AACM, tomo 165, "Actas de 15 noviembre 1844." 
89 

De Zavala, tomo 2, pp. 48, 49. 

9 ■ •■ 

Ibid. , tomo 2, p. 82. 

91 

AACM, tomo 3274, exp. 105. 
92 

AACM, tomo 290, "Actas de 4 enero y 6 mayo 1828." 

Zamacois, tomo 12, pp. 349-68. 

■'^Prieto (1964), pp. 365-71. 
9 5 

AACM, tomo 165, "Actas de 7 diciembre 1844." 
9 6 

Bustamante, Apuntes, pp. 361-65. 

9 7 

Lafragua, p. 32. 

9 8 

AACM, tomo 165, "Actas de 30 noviembre 1844." 
9 9 

Zamacois, tomo 12, p. 8. 

100 

Cuevas, pp. 178-82. 

101 

Prieto (1964), p. 298. Malo, tomo 1, p. 342. 



353 



,- ^""Prieto (1964). 

: 3 . 

Manuel Rivera Cambas , Los gobernantes de Mexico, 

2 tomos (Mexico, D.F., 1872-1873), tomo 1. 

10 4 

De Zavala, tomo 2, pp. 48-49. 

'"^Prieto (1948), pp. 32-33. 

10 6 

Luis Chavez Orozco, Historia de Mexico (1808-1836) 

(Mexico, D.F. , 1947) , p. 293.' 

10 7 

"Aniversario del grito de Dolores," Universal , 16 
septiembre 1849, p. 1. 

Zamacois, tomo 13, p. 295. 

10 9 

De Arrangoiz, tomo 2, p. 114. 

Rude. 

1 n ^ 

Mora, Mexico, tomo 1, p. 8. The Lord Gordon 'Riots 

(June 2-9, 1780) were in protest of the passage of the Catholic 

Relief Act by the British Parliament. 

112. 

Lorenzo de Zavala, Juicio imparcial sobre los acon- 

tecimientos de Mexico en 1828-1829 (Mexico, D.F., J830), pp. 

19-20. 

113 

Jose Marxa Tornel y Mendivel, Breve reseha his- 

torico (Mexico, D.F., 1852), p. 393. 

■ 1 1 4 

Flores and Gamboa, pp. 18-19. 

115 

German Carrerra Damas, "Sobre el significado socio- 

economico de la accion historica de Boves," en Comision Organi- 

zadora del Cuatricentenario de Caracas, Materiales para el 

cuatricentenario de Caracas (Caracas, 1964). 

Ibar , p . 5 . 

^^'Prieto (1948), pp. 32-33. 

118 

Zamacois, tomo 11, pp. 693-706. 

119^^ ^ - ■ ' 

Ibar, p. 6. Juan Suarez y Navarro, Historia de 

Mexico y del General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna (Mexico, D.F., 

1850), p. 130. Bocanegra, p. 146. Zamacois, tomo 11, pp. 69 3- 

700. De Zavala, Juicio, pp. 19-20. Cuevas, pp. 298-302. 

■"aACM, tomo 291, "Actas de 5 enero 1829." 

AACM, tomos 148, 228, "Actas de 9 diciembre 1828 
y 14 febrero 1828. " ■ 

122 

Tornel y Mendivel, p. 39 3. ■ 

12 3 

Flores and Gamboa, pp. 16-17. 

12 4 

Bustamante, Apuntes , p. 360. 
"■ Prieto (1964) , p. 365. ' 



354 



126 

"Remitido," Siqlo Diez y Nueve , 3 diciembre 1844, 
■p. 1. 

) 2 7 

"Revolucion," Hesperia, 1 diciembre 1844, p. 4. 
1 28 

AACM, tomo 864, exp . 44. 

129 

Salado Alvarez, pp. 396-97, 400. The lepero is 

referring to the sale of the Mesilla Valley to the United 

States in 1853. The transaction is known in the United States 

as the Gadsden Purchase. 

13 0^ 

Lopez Camara, Los fundamentos ," p. 232. 
■ 13 1 

Jose Ignacio Paz, Estupendo grito de la Acordada 
(Mexico, D.F., 1829), pp. 10-25. 

132 

De Zavala, Juicio, pp. 19-20. 

133 

Zamacois, tomo 12, p. 171. 

Malo, tomo 1, p. 347. 

135 

AACM, tomo 86 3, exp. 44. 

13 6 

Lafragua, p. 37. 

13 7- 

Salado Alvarez, p. 400. 

138 

Mora, Mexico, tomo 1, p. 81. 

1 3 tJ ^ 

Lafragua, p. 54. 



APPENDIX A 
PROFILES OF MANZANA 5 7 AND MANZANA 60 



356 



TABLE A-1 
OCCUPATIONAL PROFILE, MANZANA 5 7 AND MANZANA 60 



Upper Artisan Unskilled Total Cases 



Manzana 57 6 ' 49 27 33 

Manzana 60 6 6 7 23 64 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the random 
sample of the census of 3 849, AACM. 



TABLE A- 2 
HAEITATIONAL PROFILE, MANZANA 5 7 AND MANZANA 60 



^ in % in % in " % in % in 
House Apartment , Acessoria Room Shack 



Manzana 57 3 5 9 79 3 

Manzana 60 6 0- 92 2 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the random 
sample of the census of 1849, AACM. 



TABLE A- 3 
RENT PROFILE, MANZANA 5 7 AND MANZANA 60 



% Paying % Paying % Paying % Paying 
$0-1,0 $1,1^2,0 $2,1-3,0 >$3,0 



Manzana 5 7 19 6 7 n 4 

Manzana 60 16 59 22 3 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the random 
sample of the census of 1849, AiVCM. 



35 7 



TABLE A- 4 
BUSINESSES, MANZANA 57 AND MANZANA 60 



Man z ana 5 7 



2 pawnshops 

1 public bath 

2 soda factories 
1 carpentry shop 

1 weaver's shop 

2 pulque stalls 
1 grocery store 
1 butcher shop 

1 maize store 
1 silk spinner's 



shop 



1 paper dying shop 



Man z ana 60 



2 starch factories 

3 blanket and rebozo 
weaving shops 

1 carriage making shop 

4 grocery stores 

1 grocery store and pawn- 
shop 
1 pork butcher's shop 



SOURCE: A.G.N., tomos 83, 84, "Padrones de est.ablecimientos 
industriales , 1843." 



APPENDIX B 
COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY 



359 



TABLE B-1 
COMMERCIAL ESTABLISHMENTS, 1843 



Type 



Number 



Warehouses 

Councing houses 

Slaughter houses 

Honey shops 

Sugar shops 

Haberdasheries 

Bookshops 

Glass and fine china stores 

Silk shops 

Shoe stores 

Clothes and linen stores 

Wine shops 

Hardware stores 

Candle shops 

Rebozo shops 

Chocolate shops 

Beer stores 

Toy stores 

Straw shops 

Maize shops 

Coal and charcoal dealers 

Wax chandler shops 

Pottery stores 

Glass and cheap pottery stores 

Fruit stalls 

New clothes stores 

Clothing rental and storage 

Used furniture warehouses 

New furniture warehouses 

New and used furniture warehouses 

Woolen yard store 

Used clothing stalls 

Lumberyards 

Sweet shops 

Pastry shops 

Confection shops 

Leather shops 

Artificial flower shops 

Scrap metal warehouses 

Bakeries 

Pulque pubs 

Butcher shops 

General stores 

Mixed grocery stores 



96 

2 7 

38 

6 

9 

84 

14 

12 

54 

23 

68 

96 

30 

56 

17 

37 

4 

26 

53 

64 

174 

3 

25 

78 

41 

1 

16 

9 

12 

12 

1 

5 

13 

23 

36 

2 

26 

20 

53 

17 

385 

125 

501 

373 



2 

1 
3 
4 
1 
2 



1 
2 
2 
7 

1 
3 
2 



1 
1 



16 
5 

20 

14 



SOURCE: 
Patente. 



AGN, tomo 85. 
1843." 



"LisCa de calif ocaciones del Derecho de 



360 



TABLE B-2 
SIXTEEN MOST COMMON INDUSTRIAL ESTABLISHMENTS. 



1843 



Type 



Number 



Carpentry 
Shoemaking 

Tailoring 

Leather working 

Textiles 

Metalworking 

Blacks mi thing 

Hat making 

Tannery 

Candle making 

Gold and s ilversmi thing , 

watchmaking 
Food and beveraging processing 
Musical instruments 
Painting shops 
Carriage factories 
Mattress factories 



165 


10 


113 


6 


64 


4 


30 


2 


62 


4 


52 


3 


45 


2 


38 


2 


13 




52 


3 


49 


2 


109 


6 


10 




22 


1 


15 




9 





SOURCE: AGN, tomos 83, 84, "Padrones de es tablecimientos in- 
dustriales, 1843." 



TABLE B-3 
WORK FORCE OF CARPENTRY SHOPS. 



1845 



Journe 


ymen 


App 


rentices 




Journeymen 


App 


rentices 


4 






1' 




3 







2 






3 









Q 









Q 












2 


























Q 




2 







2 


























2 












2 











2' 




2 


2 











1 







2 











6 







2 






Q 




2 







6 











2 




0, 



361 



TABLE B-3, continued: 



Journeymen 


Apprentices 


Journeymen 


Apprentices 








7 





3 





1 


1 


3 








1 


2 





6 . 


1 











' 


2 





1 


3 








■ 











1 


2 








1 





1 





1 





2 


6 





5 


2 


]. 








19 


9 


2 











1 





2 





1 





3 


3 





Q 


1 


4 


9 


■Q 


:l 


4 


2 ■ 





1 


1 


1 


■ 





1 











2 


2 





4 


2 


2 








2 








1 








1 


6 





1 





6 











2 












SOURCE: AACM, tomo 2280, "Padron de establecimientos de 
carpinteria, 1845." 



362 



TABLE B-4 
INVENTORY OF CARPENTRY SHOP WORTH $48 IN 185 3 



One wheel with pinion 
Grate, 2 3/4 yards in length 
4 door frames 

4 water spouts 

5 mason's rasps 

4 bo] ts of old linen 

4 window panes 

2 wooden corner tables 

2 pieces of old cedar 

2 small tables 

1 almost useless spinel 

1 old desk 

1 small door 

1 door case 

1 large box 

1 gate 

2 small chunks of wood 

5 dozen tin plates 
1 wooden strip 

1 dozen wooden stair railings 

14 small doors 

1 carpenter's bench 



SOURCE: AACM, tomo 2889, "Contra German Loris, 1852, 



TABLE B-5 
CAPITAL INVESTED AND LABOR FORCE OF INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL 
ESTABLISHMENTS, CENSUS OF 1849 



"^yP*^ Investment Income (Weekly) Labor Force 

Noodle factory 130 $ 8 4 

Tinsmi thing 5 2 

Tapestry shop ■ lO^ • 4 1 

Tailor shop 40. . 6 ' 8 ' 

Leather working 150 "6 6' 

Silversmithing 90 5 2 

I Lathe shop 100 5 2 

i Carpentry shop 20 4 1 

Paint shop 30 ]_ 



363 



TABLE B-5, continued: 








Type 


Investment 


Income (Weekly) 


Labor Force 


Carpentry shop 




100 


$ 6 


4 


Tailor shop 




50 


3 


6 


Carpentry shop 




10 


3 


1 


Cliair shop 




25 






Tailor shop 




30 


3 


4 . 


Chocolate shop 




100 


20 


1 


Dairy 




10 


4 




Sock making shop 




5 


4 


2 


Carpentry shop 




10 


3 


10 


Tailor shop 
Lathe shop 
Paint shop 




50 

10 

150 


3 
1 
2 


10 

. 1 

2 


Tailor shop 




300 


7 


6 


Leather working 
Bakery 


i 
8 


None 
,000 


Scarcely enough 


to pay for foe 
8 


Press 
Pastry shop 




200 
185 


7 
9 


2 
2 


Blacksmithing shop 




20 


10 




Carpentry shop 




500 




8 


Carpentry shop 


1 


,000 




5 


Coppersmithing 


1 


,000 




2 



SOURCE: AACM, tomo 3406, "Padron industrial de 1849, manzana 
32, 44, 142, 239." 



APPENDIX C 
SALARIES AND WAGES 



365 



TABLE C-1 
CIVIL SERVICE SALARIES, 1845 



Minister io de Rela ci ones Exteriores , Gobe rnacion , y Policia: 

Minister $6,000^ 

First officer 4,000 

First officer ' 3,000 

Second officer 2,000 

Second officer 2,000 

Second officer 1,000 

Second officer 1,000 

Second officer 1,000 

Second officer 1,000 

Second officer 900 

Second officer . 600 

Archivist . 1,000 

Assistant archivist ' 600 

Clerk . 400 

Porter 600 

Office boy 200 



Of icio de Contaduria j_ Pro pios : 

Accountant general . 3 QOO 

Second chief 2,000 

Third auditor 1 QOO 

Fourth auditor 1,000 

First official of auditing 700 

First official of statistics 700 

Second official of auditing 600 

Third official of auditing and archivist 500 

Scribes (3) 400 

Office boy ■ 192 

Bureaucrat's average annual salary $700 

Artisan's average annual earnings 156 



SOURCES: Ministerio de Hacienda y Credito Publico, Memoria 
de 1344 (Mexico, D.F., 1844). Ayuntainiento de Mexico, 
Memoria de 1845 (Mexico, D.F., 1845). 

Annua] wages . 



366 



TABLE C-2 
SERVANT WAGES 





Male 




Female 




Coachman 


$ 1,6 


(W,R) 


Cook 


$ 1,1 


(W) 


Coachman 


4,0 


(W,R) 


Servant 


0,5 


(W,R) 


Servant 


3,0 


(M,R) 


Servant 


0,4 


(W,R) 


Servant 


2, A 


(M,R) 


Servant 


0,4 


(W,R) 


Coachman 


18,0 


(M,R) 


Servant 


0,2 


(W,R) 


Porter 


5,0 


(M,R) 


Servant 


0,5 


(W,R) 


Lackey 


5,0 


(M,R) 


Servant 


0,2 


(W,R) 


Porter 


12,0 


(M) 


Cook 


5,4 


(M,R) 


Errand boy 


4,0 


(M,R) 


Maid 


5,4 


(M,R) 


Errand boy 


12,0 


(M) 


Maid 


5,0 


(M,R) 


Porter 


12,0 


(M) 


Chambermaid 


4,0 


(M,R) 


Servant 


8,0 


(M) 


Maid 


3,0 


(M,R) 


Servant 


8,0 


(M) 


Cook 


3,0 


(M,R) 


Servant 


6,0 


(M,R) 


Cook 


12,0 


(M) 


Servant 


1,4 


(M,R) 


Servant 


3,0 


(M,R) 


Coachman 


8,0 


(M,R) 


Servant 


3,0 


(M,R) 


Waddy Thomp 


)Son paic 
$ 4,0-6, 


his s 



ervants who residt 


=d at his house: 


Cook 


Housekeeper 


$8,0-10 


,0 


Coachman 


15,0-2C 


,0 


Chambermaid 


3,0-4, 





Waiter 


15,0 




Scullion 


3,0-4, 






SOURCE: Industrial census of 1849, AACM, tomo 3406. 
NOTE: M = month, W = week, R = resides with employer. 



TABLE C-3 
WEEKLY WAGES, SKILLED 



Ojalatero (2) 


$2,0 


Tailor 


$3,0 


Tapi deo 


4,0 


Carpenter (10) 


3,0 


Tailor (8) 


3,0 


Turner 


3,0 


Leatlier worker (6) 


4,0 


Tailor (6) 


3,0 


Silversmith (2) 


3,0 


Printer (3) 


3,0 


Turner (2) 


1,0 


Soap cutter 


8,0 


Tailor (6) 


9 "? 


Tailor 


6,0 


Tailor (4) 


3,0 


Tailor 


3,0 


Carpen ter 


4,0 


Painter 


3,0 



TABLE C-3, continued: 



367 



Pastry maker 


$3,3 


Tailor 


2,4 ' 


Baker 


6,0 


Silversmith 


4,4 


Pastry chef 


5,2 


Brass worker 


3,0 


Carpenter 


4,3 


Tailor 


3„,0 


Weaver 


3,0 


Weaver 


1,4. 


Shoemaker 


2,5 


Tailor 


2,0 


Carpenter 


3,2 


Tailor 


0,3 


Tailor 


,3,0 


Carpenter 


4,4 


Leather worker 


4,4 - 


Shoemaker 


3,0 


Carpenter (6) 


3,0 


Shoemaker 


1,4 


Carpenter 


3,0 ■ 


Silversmith 


3,6 


Carriage maker 


1,4 


Tailor 


4,4 


Si Iversinith 


3,6 


Carriage-maker 


4,4 


Hat maker 


3,0 


Carriage maker 


4,4 


Carpenter 


6,0 


Carpenter 


4,4 


Carpenter (5) 


5,2 


Blacksmith 


2,1 


Foreman 


4,4 


Tailor 


1,4 


Carpenter (5) 


3,6 


Coppersmith 


2,2 


Tailor 


4,4 



Blacksmith 


$3,6 


Weaver 


1,0 


Tinsmith 


1,4 


Carriage maker 


2,4 


Blacksmith 


1,4 


Lace maker 


3,0 


Silversmith 


1,4 


Cigar maker 


3,0 


Tailor 


1,4 


Weaver 


0.6 


Stonecutter 


2,2 


Carriage maker 


2,2 


Esterrador 


2,2 


Shoemaker 


1,4 


We ave r 


0,3 


Weaver 


1,4 


Meat cutter- 


■■ 1,4 


Leather worker 


2,2 


Baker 


0,3 


Tailor 


3,0 


Tailor 


1,4 


Wig maker 


2,4 


Printer 


0.6 , 


Tailor 


, 0.6 


Tailor ' 


1,4 


Shoe -maker 


1,0 


Carpenter 


2,2 


Silversmith 


0,6 


Carpenter 


1,4 


Policeman 


3,0 


Carpenter 


6,0 


Armorer 


3,0 


Silversmith 


1,4 


Glove maker 


9,0 



SOURCE: Industrial census of 1849, AACM, tomo 3406. 



368 



TABLE C-^ 
WOMAN'S WAGES 



Dressmaker $1,5 (W) 

Dressmaker 0,6 (W) 

Washerwoman 1,0 (W) 

Washerwoman 2,4 (W) 

Seamstress 0,6 (W) 

Seamstress 0,6 (W) 

Chocolate grinder 0,5 (W) 
Cigar maker ' 0,6 (W) 

Washerivoman 0,6 (W) 

Cigar maker 0,6 (W) 

Tortilla maker 0,6 (W) 

Tortilla maker 0,6 (W) 

Seamstress 0,6 (W) 

Seamstress 0,6 (W) 

Washerwoman 3,0 (W) 

Cigarmaker 1,4 (w) 

Washen%roman 1,4 (w) 



Seamstress , 1,1 (W) 

Washerwoman 0,5 (W) 

V/asherwoman 2,4 (W) 
Chocolate grinder 1,4 (W) 

Washerwoman 1,0 (W) 

Seamstress 0,2 (W) 

Seamstress 0,2 (W) 

Seamstress , 2 (W) 

Seamstress 0,2 (W) 

Washerwoman 1,0 

Seamstress • 0,6 

Weaver 0,6. 

Cigar maker 0,6 

Seamstress 0,3 

Seamstress 0,3 

Seamstress 0,6 



SOURCE: Industrial census of 1849, AACM, tomo 3406, 
NOTE: W = weekly. 



APPENDIX D 
POPULATION ESTIMATES AND GROWTH 



370 



TABLE D-1 
ESTIMATES OF MEXICO CITY'S POPULATION, 1811-1857 



Source Year Estimates 



Padron de Juzgado de Policia 

AyunLamiento 

M.B. 

Fernando Navarro y Noriega 

Joel R. Poinsett 

Inst. Nacional de Geog. y Est, 

Brantz Mayer 

Thomas J. Farnham 

Juan Nepucerao Almonte 

Lerdo de Tejada 

Antonio Garcia Cubas 



1811 


168,846 


1813 


123,907 




140,000 


1820 


179,830 


1824 


150,000-160,000 


1838 ,. 


205,430 


1842 


200,000 


1846 


200,000 


1852 


170,000 


1856 


185,000 


1857 


200,000 



SOURCE: Keith Davies, "Tendencias demograficas urbanas durante 
el siglo XIX en Mexico," Historia Mexicana (octubre-diciembre 
1972), p. 501. 



TABLE D-2 



MEXI 


CO CITY NATURA 


L POPULATIO 


N GROWTH, 1839-1845 


Year 


Born 


Died 


Increase /Deer ease 


1839 


6,639 


5,638 


1,001 


1840 


6,524 


8,154 


-1,630^ 


.1841 


6,860 


5,249 


1,611 


1842 


6,656 


5,904 


752 


1843 


7,120 


6,244 


876 


1844 


7,113 


5,950 


1,163 


1845 


7,54 2 


5,772 


1,770 


Total 


48,454 


42.911 


5.543 



Average annual population growth 790 



SOURCE: Ayuntamiento de Mexico, Memoria de los ramos muni- 
cipales, 1845 (Mexico, D.F., 1847). 

The population deficit of 1840 was due to a revolution that 
claimed 137 civilian lives and a smallpox epidemic that killed 
2,878. 



371 



TABLE D-3 
POPULATION ESTIMATES OF THE AYUNTA>IIENTO DE MEXICO, 1824-1846 



Year Estimate 



1824 168,000 

1843 145,000 

1844 160,000 
1846 ' 174,000 



SOURCE: AACM, toino 872, exps . 11, 15; tomo 863, exp . 38; 
toino 873, exp. 2. 



APPENDIX E 
OCCUPATIONAL CATEGORIES 



373 



TABLE E-1 
RANDOM SAMPLE OF 1849, MIDDLE/UPPER CLASSES 



Occupation 



Number 



Business manager 
Lives off income 
Shopkeeper 
Army officer 
Student 
Large-shop keeper 

Minor civil servant 

Middle-rank civil servant 

Non trial lawyer 

Sales clerk 

Broker 

Clergyman 

Doctor 

High civil servant 

Elementary schoolteacher 

Govt, office clerk 

Musician 

Religious 

Professor 

Pub owner 

Hotel manager 

Pharmacist 

Law clerk 

Medical assistant 

Legal advisor 

Head of small firm 

BrancFi manager 

Cafe/lunchroom owner 

Restaurant operator 

Veternarian 

Miner 

Sculptor 

Artist 

Music teacher 

Member lower house 

Department manager 

Office manager 

Manager 

Credit manager 

Livestock broker 

Unspecified 



41 
34 
27 
25 
22 
15 
14 
13 

9 

9 

9 

8 

6 

6 

5 

5 

5 

4 

4 

4 

4 

3 

3 

2 

2 

2 

2 

2 

1 

1 
1 
1 
1 
1 
1 
1 
1 
1 
X 
1 
1 



3 


.0 


2 


.5 


2 


,0 


1 


.8 


1 


.6 


1 


.1 


1 


.0 


1 


.0 





.7 





.7 





.7 





.6 





.4 





.4 





.4 





4 





4 


0" 


3 





3 





3 





3 


0. 


2 


0. 


2 


0. 


1 


0. 


1 


0. 


1 


0. 


1 


0. 


1 


0. 


1 


0. 


1 


0. 


1 


0. 


1 


0. 


1 


0. 


1 


0. 


1 


0. 


1 


0. 


1 


0. 


1 


0. 


1 


0. 


1 


0. 


1 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census 
of 1849, AACM, tomo 3406. 



374 



NOTE: The middle/upper class was an amorphous group whose 
-membership ranged from the wealthiest family living off its 
income to the lowliest clerk in a house of commerce. Al- 
though businessmen were included in the middle/upper class 
group if they paid over $7 in rent, the basic criterion for 
inclusion in the group was by occupation. The computer re- 
sults indicated that this group comprise 26 percent of the 
population. But since nearly 5 percent of the group paid 
rents of $3 or less, it would appear that the computer re- 
sults inflate the percentage of the middle/upper classes. 
The true percentage is probably nearer to the nineteenth- 
century estimate of 20 percent. This group was readily dis- 
tinguished from the mestizo poor by its European life style. 



TABLE E-2 
RANDOM SAl^LE OF 1849. 



SKILLED 



Occupation 



Number 



Shoemaker 

Tailor 

Carpen ter 

Mason 

Baker 

Weaver 

One-man stand owners 

Painter 

Printer 

Tinsmith 

Jeweler 

Independent artisan 

Blacksmith 

Hat maker 

Leather worker 

Watchman 

Beef butcher 

Tanner 

Skilled construction 

Cook 

Potter 

Cabinetmaker 

Turner 

Dyer 

Metal processor 

Policeman 



94 

82 

52 

50 

46 

43 

24 

21 

14 

11 

11 

11 

10 

10 

9 

7 

6 

6 

6 

6 

6 

5 

4 

4 

4 

2 



6 


.9 


6 


.0 


3 


.8 


3 


.7 


3 


.0 


3 


.0 


1 


.8 


1 


.5 


1 


.0 





.8 





8 





8 





7 





7 





7 





5 





4 





4 


0. 


4 


0. 


4 


0.. 


4 


0. 


3 


0. 


3 


0. 


3 


0. 


3 


0. 


1 



375 



TABLE E-2, continued: 



Occui^ation Number 



Knitter ■ 2 0.1 

Embroiderer • 2 ' 0.] 

Forging press operator ' 2 • ' 0.1 

Goldsmith ' 1 ■ 0.1 

Mail carrier 2 0.1 

Beautician 1 0.1 

Prison guard 1 ■ 0.1 

Paper maker 1 0.1 

Machine tool operator. .1 0.1 

Watchmaker 1 0.1 

Plumber 1 0.1 

Lithographer -1 0.1 

Plasterer 1 0.1 

Smelter 1 0.1 

Wood treater 1 0.] 

Cashier 1 0.1 

Financial clerk ' 1 ' ■ . 0.1 

Bill collector 1 0.1 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census 
of 1849, AiVCM, tomo 3406. 

NOTE: The basic criterion for classification as an artisan 
was the possession of an occupation requiring a period of 
formal apprenticeship. Although tanners and masons were 
described as populacho in the Museo Mexicano' s essay, they 
have been classified as artisans because the tanners were 
represented on the Junta de Fomento de Artesanos and be- 
cause the masons referred to themselves by their artisanal 
ranks. Although it was impossible to distinguish the master 
artisans from the journeymen on the census of 1849, it is 
safe to assume that the great majority of those counted were 
journeymen. Included within this category, although not 
artisans, are merchants paying between $4 and $7 in monthly 
rent and the holders of occupations possessing a modicum of 
social prestige. The entire group represented 42 percent 
of the economically-active male population and 67 percent of 
those in Che last two occupational categories. 



376 



TABLE E-3 
RANDOM SAMPLE OF 1849, TOISKILLED 



Occupation 



Number 



Servant 

Street peddler 

Street porter 

Pork butcher 

Janitor 

Agricultural laborer 

Nonmetallic mineral producer 

Barber 

Coachman 

Wagoner 

Bartender 

Drover 

Food and beverage producer 

Teamster 

Fiber preparer 

Sexton 

Other producers 

Aguador 

Musi can entertainer 

Waiter 

Vegetable grower 

Unskilled factory hands 

Newspaper vendor 

Money lender 

Fisherman 

Beverage maker 

Boatman 

Street sweeper 

Wax chandler ' 

Cigar maker 



76 
52 

29 

24 

23 

17 

14 

8 

.7 

7 

6 

6 

5 

5 

5 

4 

4 

4 

2 

2 

2 

2 

1 

I 

1 

1 

1 

1 

10 

10 



5,6 
3.8 
2.1 
1.8 
1.7 
1.1 
1.0 
0.6 
0.5 
0.5 
0.4 
0.4 
0.4 
0.4 
0.4 
0.3 
0.3 
0. 3 
0.1 



0. 
■0. 



0.1 
0.1 
0.1 



0. 
0. 
0. 
0. 



1.7 
1.7 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census 
of 1849, Ai'vCM, torao 3406. 



NOTE: The unskilled class comprised nearly 23 percent of 
the entire economically-active male population and 38 percent 
of the lower-class male populati.on. Their percentage in the 
entire population is very close to the estimates of the num- 
ber of Jeperos in the popjulation. Because many of the poorer 
artisans and unskilled laborers lived in the streets, in 
ruins, or areas otherwise unaccessible to the enumerator, the 
number of artisans and populacho is underrepresented on the 
sample survey. 



APPENDIX F 



VAGRANTS AND CRIMINALS 



378 



TABLE F-1 
SUSPECTED VAGRANTS, 1828-1852, SKILLED 



Occupation Number 



Shoemaker ■ 119 ■ 19.9 

Tailor 52 8.7 

Mason 42 7.0 

Weaver • 37 .6.2 

Carpenter 26 4.3 

Baker 15 . 2.5 

Blacksmith 12 ^ 2.0 

Leather worker 12 2.0 

Confectioner 12 "2.0 

Stonecutter 6 1.0 

Printer 5 0.8 

Comb maker '5 0.8 

Candy maker 5 0.8 

Potter 5 0.8 

Gilder 4 0.8 

Pulque dealer 4 0.7 

Tanner 4 . 0.7 

Spinner 3 ' 0.5 

Turner 3 0.5 

Tinsmith 3 0.5 

Painter 3 0.5 

Stone carver 2 0.3 

Butcher 3 0.5 

Soap cutter 2 0.3 

Brickraaker 2 0.3 

Lace maker . 2 0.3 

Hat maker , 2 0.3 

Tile maker 2- 0.3 

Dyer 2 ' '0.3 

Glasier 2 0.3 

Gold leaf maker 2 , 0.3 

Armorer 1 0.2 

Batiojero 1 0.2 

Compidrador ■ 1 0.2 

Mail carrier .1 0-2 

Minter .1 . Q.2 

Dyer 1 0.2 

Card maker 1 0.2 

Glove maker .1 0.2 

Purse maker 1 0.2 

Metalworker 1 " 0.2 

Butcher 1 0.2 

Wig maker 1 0.2 

Foreman 1 .0.2 



TABLE F-1, continued: 



Occupation 



Cooper 

Cake froster 
Box maker 
Silversmith 



379 



Number 



1 
1 
1 
1 






2 





2 





2 





2 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos 
4151-56, 4778-88. 



TABLE F-2 
SUSPECTED VAGRANTS, 1828-1852, 



UNSKILLED 



Occupation 



Peddler 

Servant 

Street porter ■ 

Coachman 

Barber 

Teamster 

Waiter 

Water carrier 

Wage laborer 

Wagoner 

Pulque or meat porters 

Pork butcher 

Stamp seller 

Drover 

Mule seller 

Starch maker 

Boatman 

Street paver 

Soda maker 

Errand boy 

Street singer 

Iceman 



Number 



31 
16 
13 
11 

7 

7 

7 

5 

5 

4 

4 

4 

4 

3 

2 

1 

1 

1 

1 

1 

1 ■ 

1 



5.1 
2.7 
2.2 
1.8 
1.2 
1.2 
1.2 
0.8 
0.8 
0.7 
0.7 
0.7 
0.7 
0.5 
0.3 
0.2 
0.2 
0.2 
0.2 
0.2 
0.2 
0.2 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM tomos 
4151-56, 4778-88. 



TABLE F-3 
CONDEMNED VAGRANTS, 1828-1852, SKILLED 



Occupation 



Number 



Shoemaker 

Tailor 

Mason 

Confectioner 

Carpenter 

Baker 

Weaver 

Leather worker 

Stonecutter 

Purse maker 

Minter 

Dyer 

Blacksmith 

Turner 

Purse maker 

Lace maker 

Wig maker 

Painter 

Tile maker 

Total 



12 
12 
8 
6 
5 
5 
4 
2 
1 
1 
1 
1 
1 
2 
1 
1 
1 
1 
1 
66 



12.0 
12.0 
8,0 
6.0 
5.0 
5.0 
4.0 
2.0 
1.0 
1.0 
1.0 
1.0 
1.0 
2.0 
1.0 
1.0 
1.0 
1.0 
1.0 
16.0 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos 
4151-56, 4778-88. 



TABLE F-4 
CONDEMNED VAGRANTS, 1828-1852, UNSKILLED 



Occupation 



Number 



Peddler 

Street porter 

Servant 

Cigar maker 

Barber 

Wagoner 

Coachman 

Vegetable grower 

Waiter 



7 
4 
2 
2 
2 
2 
2 
1 
1. 



7.0 
4.0 
2.0 
2.0 
2.0 



1.0 
1.0 



TABLE F-4, continued: 



381 



Occupation 



Number 



Pork butcher 

Drover 

Servant 

Errand boy 

Total 

Unknown 



1 
1 
1 
1 
27 



,0 
.0 



1.0 

1.0 

17.0 

6.0 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, 
tomos 4151-56, 47 78-8-8. 



TABLE F-5 
CRIMINALS, MINOR WARD 17, 182 8-1852, SKILLED 



Occupation 



Number 



Mason 

Shoemaker 

Weaver 

Tailor 

Carpenter 

Confectioner 

Baker 

Hat maker 

Leather worker 

Stonecutter 

Butcher 

Blacksmith 

Button maker 

Glovemaker 

Spinner 

Turner 

Metalworker 

Minter 

Doll maker 

Chair maker 

Comb maker 

Sha.wl maker 

Tile maker 



31 
30 
22 
13 
13 
7 
6 
4 
3 
3 
3 
2 
1 
1 
1 
1 
1 
1 
1 
1 
1 
1 
1 



15.0 

15.0 

10.2 

6.2 

6.2 

3.4 

2.9 

1.9 

L.4 

1.4 

.9 

.9 

.5 

.5 

.5 

.5 

.5 

.5 

.5 

.5 

.5 

.5 

.5 



TABLE F-5, continued: 



38^ 



Occupation 



Number 



Shopkeeper 

Cooper 

Spinner 



1 
1 
1 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos 
2889-92. 



TABLE F-6 
CRIMINALS, MINOR WARD 17, 1828-1852, UNSKILLED 



Occupation 



Number 



Porter 

Wax chandler 

Fisherman 

Servant 

Meat cutter 

Charcoal vendor 

Wage laborer 

Drover 

Water carrier 

Peddl er 

Waiter 

Pork butcher 

Guard 

Sweet vendor 

Coachman 

Soap maker 

Milk vendor 

Sidewalk musician 

Salt maker 



15 
6 
6 
4 
4 
3 
4 
3 
2 
2 
2 
2 
2 
2 
1 
1 
1 
1 
1 



7.0 

2.9 

2.9 

1.9 

1.9 

1.4 

1.9 

1.4 

.9 

.9 

.9 

.9 

.9 

.9 

.5 

.5 

.5 

.5 

.5 



SOURCE: 
2889-9/ 



Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos 



383 



TABLE F-7 
OCCUPATIONS OF CONVICTED CRIMINALS 



Occupation 



Number 



Artisans : 



Mason 

Shoemaker 

Weaver 

Carpenter 

Leatherworker 

Chair maker 

Baker 

Painter 

Tile maker 

Tailor 

Meat butcher 

Steward 

Stone worker 

Glove maker 



11 
11 
10 
5 
2 
2 
3 
1 
1 
4 
2 
1 
1 
1 



Unskilled; 



Drover 

Laborer 

Street entertainer 

Salt maker 

Street merchant 

Servant 

Street porter 

Water carrier 

Powder maker 

Wax chandler 



3 

1 
1 
1 
1 
2 
4 
1 
1 
2 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos 
2889-92. 



APPENDIX G 
500-YARD RING/ 1,000-YARD CIRCLE PROFILES 



385 



TABLE G-1 
COMPARISON OF POPULATION OF INNER 500-YARD CIRCLE 
WITH OUTER i, 000-YARD" RING 



Popu.l ation : 

Circle = 17% of total population 
Ring = 83% of total population 
Total cases = 1,364 



Occup ational composition of circle and ring : 

Upper Artisanal Unskilled 

Circle 35 33 25 

Total cases = 225 
Ring 24 41 25 

Total cases = 1,125 
Unknown =14 



Distribution of occupational categories among circle and ring: 



Upper 

Total cases = 225 
Artisanal 

Total cases = 573 
Unskilled 

Total cases = 318 
TOTAI. CASES = 1,116 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census 
of 1849, AACM, tomo 3406. 



Circle 


Ring 


22 


78 


13 


87 


is 


81 



TABLE G-2 
COMPARISON OF INDUSTRIES OF INNER ' 500-YARD CIRCLE 
AND OUTER 1,000-YARD RING 



D istributi on of Indus tries ; 

Circ] e 

Ring 

Total cases = 2,000 



— Jl^JziLk ind u stry 
32 
68 



Assessment of taxes: 

Circle 

Ring 

Total cases = 2,000 



% Assessed Taxes % Not Assessed Taxes 



55 

21 



45 
79 



SOURCE: AGN, tonios 83, 84, "Padrones de establecimientos in- 
dustriales, 1843." 



APPENDIX H 



TPAZA/ BARRIOS PROFILES 



388 



TABLE H-1 
CITY, TRAZA, BARRIO OCCUPATIONAL PROFILE 



% Upper % Artisan % Unskilled 

City 26 42 24 

Traza 37 ' 32 22 

Barrio 15 50 25 

Total cases 1,364 



Distribution 'of occupational categories : 

_% rn T raza _% ^^ Barrios 

Upper 70 30 

Artisan 38 62 

Unskilled 48 52 
Total cases 1,364 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census 
of 1849, .\i\CM, tomo 3406. 



TABLE H-2 
' CITY, TRAZA, BARRIO HABITATIONAL PROFILE 

% in % in % in % in % in 
H ouses Apartments Acessorias Single Rooms Shacks 

City 18 15 15 47 s" 

Traza 25 20 19 32 1 

Barrio 11 9 10. 6 2 6 

Total cases 1,342 



Distribution of habitational types 



Traza Barrios 



% in houses 70 30 

% in apartments 69 31 

% in acessorias 65 35 

% in single rooms 35 66 

% in shacks 17 83 
Total cases 1,342 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census 
of 1849, AACM, tomo 3406. 



389 



TABLE H-3 
CITY, TRAZA, BARRIO RENT PROFILE 



% Paying % Paying % Paying % Paying % Paying 
$0-1,6 $1,7-2,4 $2,5-5,0 $5,l-10,'o Over $10,0 



City 30 20 

Traza 11 16 

Barrio 45 26 
Total cases = 1,009 



17 
20 
13 



15 
24 
11 



10 

29 

5 



Distribution of rents; 



% paying $0-1,6 
% paying $1,7-2,4 
% paying $2,5-5,0 
% paying $5,1-10,0 
% paying over $10,0 
Total cases = 1,009 



Traza 


Barrios 


17 


83 


35 


65 


63 


37 


68 


32 


81 


19 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census 
of 1849, AACM, tomo 3406. 



APPENDIX I 
AGE AT DEATH, 1842, 1844, 1850 



391 





TABLE 1-1 






AGE AT DEATH, 1842 




Age Bracket 


Number 


% 


1-3 


1,717 


35 


3-7 


232 


5 


7-20 ■ 


152 


3 


20-25 


223 


5 


25-30 


254 


5 


30-35 


431 


9 


35-40 


238 


5 


40-45 


443 


9 


45-50 


268 


5 


50-55 


144 


3 


55-60 


376 


8 


60+ 


447 


Q 



Total cases 4,925 
Average age at death 30 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, 
tomes 723-24. 



TABLE 1-2 
AGE AT DEATH, 1844 



Age Bracket 


Number 


1-3 


1,712 


3-7 


282 


14-11 


142 


20-21 


287 


21-25 


241 


25-30 


367 


30-35 


184 


35-40 


363 


40-45 


183 


45-50' 


308 


50-55 


115 . ■ 


55-60 


30] 


60+ 


488 



34 
6 
3 
6 
5 
7 
4 
7 
4 
6 
2 
6 

10 



392 



TABLE 1-2, continued: 



Total cases 4,973 
Average age at death 30 



SOURCE: Compiled and coniputed by the author from i\ACH, 
tomo 725. 



TABLE 1-3 
AGE AT DEATH, 1850 



Age Bracket Number 



1 day-10 yrs 2,163 38 

11-22 337 6 

21-30 ' 791 14 

31-40 7 37 ■ 13 

41-50 650 11 

51-60 539 9 

61-70 315 6 

71-80 12 7 2 

81-90 42 1 

Total cases 5,701 
Average age at death 28 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomo 
733. 

NOTE: Excludes deaths from cholera. 



APPENDIX J 



CAUSES OF DEATH, 1842, 1844 



394 









TABLE 


J-1 










CAUSES OF 


DEATH 


, 1842, 


1844 




Disease 




1842 




% 




1844 


I. 


Pneumonia 




653 




14 




641 


13 


Dysente:"y 




549 




12 




520 


11 


Fever 




391 




8 




470 


■ 10 


Convulsions 




375 




8 




444 


9 


Tuberculosis 




192 




4 




182 


4 


Costado^ 




150 




3 




111 


2 


Measles 




2 








7 




Smallpox 




19 








8 




Scarlet fever 




8 








130 




Total 


2 


,349 






2 


,513 




Others 


2 


,325 






2 


,329 




Total 


4 


,674 






4 


,842 





SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos 
723-26. 



Costado, or pleurisy, is usually a symptom of typhoid, typhus, 
measles, scarlet fever, or smallpox. 



TABLE J- 2 
DEATHS OF CHILDREN, THE SAGRARIO, 



1842 



% Age 0-9 



Over Age 10 



Alferecia 

Dysentery 

Stroke 

Whooping cough 

Mai interior 

Inflammation 

Diarrhea 

Etica 

Angina 

Empacho 

Fever 

Pneumonia 



17 

11 

11 

10 

7 

6 

3 

3 

2 

2 

4 

3 



20 



395 



TABLE J-2, continued: 



% Age 0-9 % Over Age 10 



Hydropesia 2 ^ 

Dropsy 13 

Continuous fever ' 7 

Costa do 4 

Tuberculosis . 2 

Others 19 46 

Total no. of deaths 381 ■ 723 

36% of all deaths are under the ae;e of ]_0 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos 
723, 724. 



APPENDIX K 
PERIODICITY OF DISEASE 



397 



TABLE K-1 
MONTHLY PERCENTAGES OF PNEUMONIA DEATHS, 1842, 1844, 1848 



Month 



1842 



1844 



1848 



Jan. 

Feb . 

Mar . 

Apr. 

May 

June 

July 

Aug. 

Sept. 

Oct. 

Nov. 

Dec. 



9 
26 

5 
10 
7 
6, 
2 
5 
7 
9 



Total deaths 107 



12 

17 

11 

6 

4 

6 

6 

6^ 

8 

5 

14 

7 

102 



9 

16 

13 
5 
8 
8 

■ 5 

5 

7 

■ 6 

11 

130 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, toraos 
723, 725, 729. 



TABLE K-2 
MONTHLY PERCENTAGES OF DYSENTERY DEATHS, 1842, 1844, 1848 



Month 

Jan. 

Feb . 

Mar. 

Apr. 

May 

June 

July 

Aug. 

Sept . 

Oct. 

Nov. 

Dec. 



1842 



2 
5 
7 
4 
8 

10 
6 

14 
9 
7 
5 



Total deaths 111 



1844 



4 

9 

7 

6 

10 

15 

21 

6 

6 

6 

3 

67 



1848 



13 

19 

6 

10 

19 

4 

1 

4 

8 

1 

79 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos 
723, 725, 729. 



39S 



Tx\BLE K-3 
PERCENTAGES OF TOTAL MONTHLY DEATHS, 1842, 1848 



Month 1842 1848 

Jan. 7. 9 

Feb. 6 8 

Mar . 8 9 

Apr. 10 9 

May ,8 8 

June 9 -9 

July 9 10 

Aug. 9 10 

Sept. 8 9 

Oct. 8 ■ -9 

Nov. ,9 ■ 10 

Dec. 9 9 

■ Total deaths 4,674 . 5,522 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos 
723, 729. 



APPENDIX L 
POPULATION, MANZANA 5 7 AND MANZANA 60 



400 



MANZANA 57, 



TABLE L-1 
AGE/SEX DISTRIBUTION 



Age 



% Male 



% Female 



0-4 

5-9 

10-14 

15-19 

20-24 

25-29 

30-34 

35-39 

40-44 

45-49 

50-54 

55-59 

60+ 



5 
6 
2 
1 
5 
6 
5 
3 

5 
1 
3 



1 



5 
5 
3 
5 
7 
8 
8 
3 
5 
2 
2 
1 
2 



Total population 



699 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomo 
3613. 



MANZANA 60. 



TABLE L-2 

AGE/SEX DISTRIBUTION 



Age 



Male 



% Female 



0-4 

5-9 

10-14 

15-19 

20-24 

25-29 

30-34 

35-39 

40-44 

45-49 

50-54 

55-59 

60+ 



6 
4 
2 

4 
4 
5 
3 
3 
2 
1 
1 
2 



7 
6 
5 
5 
7 
6 
6 
4 
4 
1 
2 
1 
2 



Total population = 1,357 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomo 
3604. 



401 



TABLE L-3 
MANZANA 57, MIGRANT POPULATION 





Age 


% Male 


% Female 


0-4 








5-9 


2 


2 


10-14 


2 





15-19 


1 


2 


20-24 


3 


9 


25-2 9' 


10 


12 


30-34 ■• 


8 


9 


35-39 


4 


6 


40-44 


5 


7 


45-49 . 





2 


50-54 


2 


6 


55+ 


1 


4 


Total immigrants = 


= 179 





SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomo 
3413. 



TABLE L-4 
MANZANA 60, MIGRANT POPULATION 



Age 



% Male 



% Female 



0-4 

5-9 

10-14 

15-19 

20-24 

25-29 

30-34 

35-39 

40-44 

45-49 

50-54 

55+ 



2 
2 
3 
2 
4 
3 
8 
3 
5 
2 
2 
3 



1 
3 

3 

5 

7 

10 

. 8 

5 

6 

2 

2 

3. 



Total immigrants = 486 



SOURCE : 
34 09. 



Compiled and computed by the author from MCM, tomo 



402 



TABLE L-5 
■MANZANA 57, PERCENTAGES OF MTGIUNTS IN THE 20-39 AGE BRACKET 





Age 




Male 






Female 




Native 


Migrant 


Total No. 


Native 


Migrant 


Total No 


20-24 


84% 


16% 


32 


76% 


24% 


51 


25-29 


69 


31 


41 


73 


27 


58 


30-34 


64 


36 


36 


78 


22 


57 


35-39 


70 


30 


18 


72 


28 


23 



TABLE L-6 
MANZANA 60, PERCENTAGES OF MIGRANTS IN THE 20-39 AGE BRACKET 





Age 




Male 






Female 




Native 


Migrant 


Total No. 


Native 


Migrant 


Total No 


20-24 


7 3% 


27% 


48 


70% 


30% 


93 


25-29 


77 


23 


58 


65 


35 


85 


30-34 


66 


34 


71 


67 


33 


81 


35-39 


70 


30 


40 


70 


30 


55 



APPENDIX M 



MARRIAGE PERIODICITY AND HOUSEHOLD SIZE 



404 



TABLE M-1 
MONTHLY PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL ANNUAL MARRIAGES, 1842 



Month %. Month • % 

Jan. 17 July 14 

Feb. 17 Aug. 20 

Mar. 9 Sept. .12 

Apr. 17 Oct. 16 

May 19 Nov. 17 

June 13 Dec. 7 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomo 
723, exp. 2. 



TABLE M-2 
CONTRAST OF TYPE 5 AND TYPE 9 FAMILY CHARACTERISTICS 





Number of child 
family type: 


ran 


as p 


ercent c 


if 


total 


numb 


er c 


)f 


each 


1 




2 


3 




4_ 




5_ 




6+ 


Type 5 36 




24 


16 




13 




7 




4 


Type 9 




3 


13 




23 




20 




40 



Perce ntage within each occupational group : 









Artisan 


Unskilled 


Upper 


Type 5 






44 


25 


20 


Type 9 






23 


3 


40 


Mean rent 












Type 5 ; 


? 9^ 


,0 








Type 9 


25 


.0 









Total number of Type 5 families = 321 
Tota]. number of Type 9 families = 30 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the random 
sample of the census of 1849, AACM, tomos 3409, 3413. 



405 



TABLE M-3 
CROSS TABULATION OF HOUSEHOLD SIZE WITH RESIDENCE 
IN TRAZA AND BARRIO 











House 


;hold 


Size 








9 


3 


4 


5 


6 


7 


8+ 


Traza 
Btirrio 


26% 
29 


19% 
24 


16% 
17 


13% 
10 


11% 
8 


6% 
5 


10% 
6 



Traza total = 430 
Barrio total = 451 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the random 
sample of the census of 1849, AACM, tomos 3409, 3413. 

NOTE: Sample limited to households of oyer two members. 



TABLE M-4 
CROSSTABULATION OF HOUSEHOLD SIZE WITH OCCUPATION 











Hous 


ehold 


Size 








2 


3 


4 


5 


6 


7 


8+ 


Skilled 


28% 


28% 


17% 


9% 


9% 


5% 


5% 


Unskilled 


34 


18 


20 


12 


9 


3 


5 


Commercial/ 
Professional 


23 


17 


14 


13 . 


11 


10 


12 



Total skilled = 366 

Total unskilled = 188 

Total professional/commercial = 215 



SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the random 
sample of the census of 1849, AACM, tomos 3409, 3413. 

NOTE: Sample limited to households of over two. members. 



APPENDIX N 



OCCUPATIONS OF PARENTS OF FREE SCHOOL PUPILS, 1836 



407 



TABLE N-1 

SCHOOL LOCATED ON THE STREET OF SEVEN PRINCES, 

OCCUPATIONS OF PARENTS, 1836 



1 gunsmith 

1 farm laborer 

1 charcoal maker 
23 shoemakers 

30 searascresses^ 

22 weavers 

15 carpenters 

13 tailors 

5 tortilla makers^ 

5 sweet makers 

5 tanners 

4 butchers 

4 cigar makers 

4 hat makers 

4 atole makers'^ 

3 pork butchers 

3 silversmiths 

4 blacksmiths 

4 silk spinners^ 
3 comb makers 

2 metalworkers 

2 leather workers 

2 shawl makers 

2 administrators 

2 mint operatives 

2 cigar makers'^ 

2 cooks 

1 dyer 

1 metal caster 

1 slaughterhouse worker 

1 administrator of 

slaughterhouse 
1 pastry chef 
1 waffle maker^ 
1 confectioner 
1 miller 

1 bakery administrator 
1 cigar twister^ 
1 weaver=^ 
1 coffee grinder'^ 
1 colera [?]^ 
1 chocolate maker^ 
1 fruiterer 



1 broom maker'^ 

1 candle maker 

1 candlestick maker 

1 wool comber 

1 carriage maker 

1 bookbinder 

1 printer 

1 paymaster 

1 oil maker 

1 chair maker 
15 soldiers 

12 domestic servants^ 

11 laundresses'^ 

5 clerks 

3 civil servants 

3 minters 

3 barbers 

3 painters 

2 janitors 

1 key keeper 
1 concierge'^- 
1 schoolteacher^^ 
1 watchman 
1 collector 
1 rent collector 
1 policeman 
1 notary 

1 clergyman [sic] 
1 gate guard 

1 agent of Supreme Court 
1 convent administrator 
1 public carriage adminis- 
trator 
1 teacher 
1 vigilante 
1 servant 
1 foreman 
1 attorney 
1 sculptor 
1 engraver 
1 auctioneer 
23 "merchants" 
1 rope peddler 



408 



TABLE N-1, continued: 



1 messenger 

5 street porters 

4 carters 

1 oarsman 

1 starch maker^ 

2 cooks "^^ 



1 storekeeper 

3 water carriers 

2 coachmen 

4 masons 

1 merchant'^ 
1 butcher'^-' 



SOURCE: AACM, tomo 2478, exp . 352. Dorothy T[anke] Estrada, 
"Las escuelas lancastrianas en la Ciudad de Mexico, 1822-1842," 
Historia Mexicana, tomo 22, no. 4, pp. 509-510. 



Indicates female occupations. 



APPENDIX 
FAMILY MUTATION 



410 



TABLE 0-1 
FAMILY OF ABRAHAM GARCIA, 



SHOEMAKER 



Name 



Age 



Position 



1842 



Abraham Garcia 
Guadalupe Hernandez 
Genaro Garcia 
Pilar Garcia 
Manuel Flores 



23 

32 

8 

2 

1 



Husband 

Wife 

Son 

Daughter 

[?] 



1849 



Abraham Garcia 
Guadalupe Hernandez 
Pilar Garcia 
Petra Garcia 
Felix Garcia 
Juana Ibarra 
Genaro Garcia 



26 

24 

8 

5 

2 

56 

14 



Husband 

Wife 

Daughter 

Daughter 

Son' 

[?] 

Son (shoemaker) 



TABLE 0-2 ^ 
FA>IILY OF BENITO GIRON, 



WEAVER 



Name 



Age 



Position 



1842 



Benito Giron 

Maria Hortencia Ramirez 

Justa Giron 

Juan Giron 

Gertrudis Marroqui 



75 
60 
31 
7 
35 



Husband 

Wife 

Daughter 

Son 

[?] 



411 



TABLE 0-2, continued: 



Name Age Position 

1849 

Maria Hortencia 60 Wife (widow) 

Justa Giron 26 Daughter 

Juan Cviron 12 Son 



TABLE 0-3 
FAMILY OF DOMINGO FLORES , WATER CARRIER 



Name Age Position 

j_84_2 

Domingo Flores 34 Father ■ 

Teodora Resales 32 Wife 

Ramon Flores 6 Son 

Jose Miliciano 4 Son 

Josefa Flores 13 Daughter 

Justa Flores 2 Daughter 

Cristobal Flores 17 Son or brother 

Jose Maria Flores 10 Son 



1849 

Teodora Resales 45 Wife 

Maria Josefa Guerra 20 [?] 

Ramon Flores 12 Son 

Maria 7 Daughter 



412 



TABLE 0-4 
FAMILY OF CRISTOBAL GALINDO, PORK BUTCHER 

Name Age Position 

1842 

Cristobal Galindo 
Feliciana Sanchez 
Brigido Galindo 
Nicanor Galindo 
Jose Maria Galindo 
Juan Galindo 
Juan Galindo 



1849 

Cristobal Galindo 41 Father 

Feliciana Sanchez 39 Wife 

Nicanor Galindo 14 Son 

Jose Maria Galindo 11 Son 



48- 


Father 


33 


Wife 


13 


Son 


7 


Son 


4 


Son 


2 


Son 


months 


Son 



APPENDIX P 



VAGRANCY CODE AND CRIMINAL STATISTICS 
1825-1852 



414 



VAGRANCY CODE, MARCH 2, 1845 



Immoral Behavior 

1. The heir of a distinguished family that — although possess- 
ing some patrimony or rent far from occupying himself with it- 
dedicates himself only to houses of gambling or prostitution, 
visiting the cafes, and associating himself with persons of 
evil liabits. 

2. The son of a distinguished family that does not obey or 
respect his parents or superiors and who displays vicious 
habits. 

3. The husband who mistreats his wife frequently, without 
any motive, scandalizing the community by his conduct. 

4. Those who with words, gestures, or indecent actions cause 
scandcil in the public places or propagate immorality, selling 
obscene pictures or sculpture, even when they have an honest 
occupation from which they live. 

5. Those who habitually play cards, rayuela, taha, or any 
other form of gambling in the plazas, doorways, or taverns. 

6. He who continually indulges himself in alcohol and philan- 
dering. 



Willful Refusa l to VJork Regularly or Productively 

1. He who lives without occupation, rent, craft, or lucrative 
profession with which to obtain subsistence. 

2. He who habitually begs alms, being healthy and robust or 
with some lesion that does not prevent the exercise of some 
industry. 

3. The invalid soldier that occupies himself by begging alms 
even though he is receiving a pension. 

4. He who without any motive refuses to work most of the year 
in his craft. 

5. The wage laborer who without any just cause works less 
than half of the working week and passes the remainder without 
honest occupation. 



415 



6. The youthful stranger who, having parents, lives in a 
town without honest occupation. 

7. He who, although residing in his town, lives only by 
begging alms, either because he is an orphan or because his 
parents tolerate it. 

8. Those who with magic lanterns, trained animals, dice, or 
other games of chance earn their living traveling from one 
village to another. 

9. Those who travel from village to village with sweets to 
sell to children, even if the sale of them earns enough to 
maintain them. 

10. Those who without being unfit for the exercise of any 
other office occupy themselves by reading broadsheets and 
selling lottery tickets. 

11. Professional swindlers. 

12. Those who subsist exclusively by serving as hombres 
buenos in the courts and those x-zho are vulgarly called 
tintorillos . 

13. Those who with collection boxes, virgins, or rosaries 
wander through the streets or from town to town asking alms 
without the permission of the ecclesiastical judge or 
governor of the department. 

14. Those who collect alms for Masses outside of the atriums 
or cemetaries of the churches. 

15. Those who play harps, guitars, or other musical instru- 
ments in the wine shops, restaurants, or pulquerlas . 



416 



TABLE P-1 
CRIME, 1825 



Crime 



Numbers 



Homicide 

Robbery 

Quarrels and bearing arms 

Various unspecified crimes 



151 
1,050 
2,011 
1,508 



SOURCE: Luis Manuel de Rivero, Mexico en 1842 (Madrid, 1844) 



TABLE P-2- ■ 
CRIME, 1842 



Crime 



Male 



Female 



Total 



Prostitution, adultery 
& assorted sexual 
offenses 

Robbery 

Quarreling and wounding 

Quarreling and bearing 
arms 

Homicide 

Rape and incontinence 

Forgery 

Gambling 



312 



179 



491 



1,500 
2,129 


470 
1,104 


1,970 
3,233 


612 


■444 


1,056 


70 

65 

7 

3 


17 

■ 21 

1 




87 

86 

8 

3 



Miscellaneous 



1,927 Lesser crimes 

17 Executions 

113 Dead bodies found on the streets 

894 Wounded requiring hospitalization 



SOURCE: Brantz Mayer, Mexico As It Was and As It Is (New 
York, 1844). 



417 



TABLE P-3 
CRIME, 1851 



Crime 



Male 



Female 



Robbery 

Suspicion of robbery 

Purse snatching 

Homicide 

Quarrels and wounding 

Bearing arms 

Prison escape 

Swindling 

Incontinency and adultery 

Excesses against pub].ic decency 

Juvenile delinquency 

Suicide 

Police infraction 

Public intoxication 



38A 
180 
120 

15 
728 
209 

36 

39 
354 
311 

64 

1 

212 

1,256 



120 

84 

25 

3 

246 

85 



17 

403 

318 



182 

1,944 



Ayuntamien to de Mexico, Memoria de 1851 (Mexico, D-.F., 



SOURCE : 
1851) .- 



TABLE P-4 
CRIME, 1852 





Crime 


Male 


Female 


Total 


Robbery 


1,800 


590 


2,390 


Quarreling and wounding 


2,937 


1,805 


4,742 


Bigamy 


421 


203 


624 


Homicide 


180 


42 


222 


Incontinence 


75 


37 


112 


Forgery 


11 


3 


14 


Throwing vitriol 


41 


17 


68 


Lesser crimes 


734 


341 


1,075 


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424 



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433 



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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 



Frederick John Shaw Jr. was born April 20, 1941 in 
New York City, New York. An early participant in the great 
suburban migration, he moved to Massapequa, New York, in 
1953, where he xras graduated from Massapequa High School 
in June 1958. Four years were spent at S.UNY , Binghamton, 
earning a B.A. in the social sciences. He joined the United 
States Air Force in December 1962, serving four years in 
the United Kingdom and mustering out in March 196 7 with 
the rank of captain and a wife. From April 1967 to June 
1968 he attended American University, Washington, D.C., re- 
ceiving a M.A. in Latin American area studies from the 
School of International Service. In September 1968 he 
embarked on his doctoral program at the University of 
Florida, unknowing that it would take him six years to com- 
plete. He spent the year 1972 in Mexico City as a Fulbright- 
Hays scholar. During the course of his academic career, he 
has sired three children, baked innumerable ]. oaves of fine 
bread, fermented gallons of fiery beer and wine, and played 
rugby with an all-consuming passion. 



434 



opinion ' /"'j'y ^^^^ ^ '^^-^ ---^ this study and that in n,y 
opinion It conforms to acceptable standards of scholar! v nrP 
sentation and is fully adequate, in scope and qlalUy LT" 
dissertation for the degree of Doctor of PhUosopJ;. '' " 




-e N. McAJister. 
Professor of Histo 



Cliairman 
ry 



I certify that I have read this stud 



opinion it conforms 
sentation and is full 
dissertation for the d 



y and that in my 



y pre- 



to acceptable standards of schoJarl 
y adequate, in scope and quality, as a 
egree of Doctor of Philosophy. 



:;zf^ 



Sugiyama -lutaka 

Associate Professor of Sociol 



ogy 



=:5i-;rK'£;nasSs-"-""-".- 



dissertation for the degree of Doctc 



and quality, as 



t of Philosophy. 




Neill W. Macaulay Jr. 
Associate Professor of Hist 



ory 



Faculty of 'thf n'""'''"" ^"' submitted to the Graduate 
faculty of the Department of History m the College of Arts 

a p!r "ll.^r n'° ''' ''''"''^'' '°""^^^'' ^"^^ -s'accepted 
BocL^r^^f pL"l":opt" '^'^ -^— nts for the degLe of 

June 19 75 



Harry H. Sisler 
Dean, Graduate School